Battling Imposter Syndrome While Chasing a Dream & How to Overcome It

Self-Help

Imposter Syndrome: referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Let’s talk about the issue of imposter syndrome. I realized I’ve been going through it personally for a year or two, without even knowing that I was or what it was called. All I knew was that I would think back to the accomplishments I achieved, like creating a smoke-free policy on my college campus or landing a job and think… well, I just got lucky, or I had help. I couldn’t have landed that job if it wasn’t for so-and-so looking at my resume. I wouldn’t have created that no-smoking policy if it wasn’t for other people. Why should I take credit? I couldn’t admit to myself that I had done something to be proud of. Until I came across a post on LinkedIn.

A girl around my age was accepted into the Harvard Business School, something she had dreamed about for years. In her happy post, she opened up about how she was dealing with imposter syndrome and worried that she didn’t belong there like everyone else. That’s when it hit me–I was experiencing the exact same feeling!

The accomplishments that I did have I couldn’t take credit for, and when I pursued a dream or a project I would have an overwhelming fear of people discovering that I was a fraud. That I, in fact, had no idea what I’m talking about. That I was not nearly as smart or creative as I led people to believe.

I’ve been following all of the wellness bloggers, influencers, and content creators for years and stared at their work in awe. They were not much older than me, and they directly impacted the lives of young women all over the country. It was my dream to be like them, but I continue to think to myself, “Who do I think I am? I’m me. Heather. I don’t have 100k followers. I don’t have a book deal. I don’t have a podcast. Why would anyone want to learn from me and my wellness journey when they could learn from someone else?”

This is my passion. This is what I envisioned myself doing for years before I started Lost Online. Yet I keep having fears that others think I’m not cut out for it. Since learning more about imposter syndrome, I realized that I don’t just do it with my creative endeavors and my passions, like my blog. I do it with work too.

Throughout college and after graduation my plan was to be in communications within the health and wellness industry. Very recently I landed a position as a Wellness Ambassador. In this position, I’ll be writing blog posts, creating social media posts, coordinating events, interviewing people, developing promotions, and speaking on podcasts. It’s a position that I’m more than qualified for. I’ve done so many of these duties before and I was clearly excited about this job. It had even felt like I landed a job that had been perfectly designed for me, but the day after I was offered the position … imposter syndrome seeped in. Those thoughts started to gnaw at me. “What if my new boss thinks I’m terrible? A phony? A fake?”

So, what is Imposter Syndrome? How does it manifest?

Imposter Syndrome is a widespread phenomenon that occurs when you believe that you are not as competent as others believe you to be. Seems simple enough and easy to understand, right? Well, it turns out it gets even more complicated than that. After reading other articles and blog posts, I realized that many people have imposter syndrome and don’t even know it, or have imposter syndrome that manifests in different ways. There are actually five different types. If you struggle with imposter syndrome, let me know what type you are in the comments and what you do to manage it when you feel those feelings manifest! WARNING: this list might lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and a life-changing epiphany about your own mindset and behaviors.

1. The Perfectionist

The perfectionist is someone who loves to set very high goals for themselves, but then experiences major self-doubt when they failed to measure up to their own standards. If you look up perfectionist in the dictionary, it will most likely list me as an example. Perfectionists like us are often called “control freaks” by friends and loved ones, are accused of micromanaging, have a difficult time delegating, have insanely high standards for ourselves (standards that other people would never expect from us), feel like we have to be perfect 100 percent of the time, compare ourselves to others, have difficulty celebrating accomplishments, and often take on so much that they burn out. Perfectionists create a reality for ourselves that’s filled with so much pressure for no good reason.

I believe that we perfectionists also lean toward a fixed mindset because having a growth mindset is something that requires people to be OK with making mistakes and learning from them. I know that I tend to not want to do or try anything that I know I wouldn’t be perfect at because it shows how inadequate I am.

2. The Superman/Superwoman

The superman types can be very similar to the perfectionists. The supermen push themselves to work harder and harder to measure up to others. They are often called “workaholics” by friends and loved ones; they are the last one to leave the office; they get stressed out and feel unproductive when they have downtime; their work and their career is their hobby; they could have multiple jobs and be in multiple groups or clubs; they feel like they haven’t earned their titles making them work even harder to earn it; and they could find it difficult to receive constructive criticism.

Supermen and superwomen put themselves at high risk for burnout and their work can often affect their own mental health, physical health and relationships. I believe that these types of people often have a very hard time saying “no,” even if they are having serious problems from overworking themselves. It can be hard for them to stop and relax even when their body is telling them to slow down.

3. The Natural Genius

The natural genius believes that their competence is based on how smart other people perceive them to be and how quickly and easily they can come up with information and facts, as opposed to the efforts they put in. The natural geniuses set their own bar very high and feel deep shame and self-doubt if they don’t know, understand, or get something right on the first try. If they can’t do something quickly and effortlessly, it upsets them. They often have a track record of a 4.0 GPA, A+ assignments, and honor rolls. Their friends and loved ones call them “the smart one,” they swear off the things they think they’re bad at, they’re in all AP classes, they may not like having a mentor because it reflects their own incompetence, and they have a very fixed mindset.

I don’t know about you but I know some natural genius types that say something confidentially and pass it off as a fact, even if it’s just a hunch or a guess. Sometimes the types will even defend their best guess when they’re wrong because they are scared for people to know that they, in fact, don’t know everything. In my opinion, I believe that the natural geniuses question their own identity if they’re not viewed as a genius or a smart one. Receiving a bad grade or constructive criticism can be soul-shattering. I remember that my natural genius friends back when I was in a private middle school would cry over an A- on a test.

4. The Soloist

The soloist is the type that cannot for the life of them ask for help, even if they need it. They feel that asking for help from others shows people their inadequacies and exposes them. Asking for help is a sign of failure to them. They have a problem delegating. They’re often the person in the kitchen who does all the cooking and won’t ask for assistance. If they’re a leader or a manager, they will do most or all of the work and they’re often referred to by friends and loved ones as being “independent” or a “lone wolf.”

5. The Expert

Experts base their competence off of what and how much they know. Just think of Reed from “Criminal Minds.” They’re the friend with all the random facts and statistics that you have no idea where they came from. They constantly seek out training and certificates so they know more. They’re always trying to build their resume. They often have an advanced degree and they don’t apply for a job unless they perfectly meet all the requirements. Experts feel as if they never know “enough” and they actually don’t like being referred to as an expert because they don’t feel as if they can live up to the title. They may still feel as if they don’t know enough even in jobs they’ve worked for years.

Did you learn something about yourself?

I don’t know about you, but after reading this list, I realized that I don’t fall right into the perfectionist category like I thought I did. I’m actually a bit of a mixture, and I think many people are too. Imposter syndrome can manifest in so many ways. Maybe you’re a perfectionist and a superman? We as humans are messy and don’t just fall into one particular label.

It may surprise you to know that you have imposter syndrome in the first place, or that it’s such a common issue that people struggle with. Many people may struggle with imposter syndrome but not even notice that they have difficulty internalizing their accomplishments. It does require a level of self-awareness that not everyone has.

When I researched online, I saw so many statistics about how many people have imposter syndrome. I feel that most people have it, regardless of what the numbers in online articles say. I would be willing to bet that most people deal with imposter syndrome and struggle with it in private. No one’s fragile ego is protected. Even celebrities.

Why do we feel this way?

I have a theory. Imposter syndrome is so widespread largely because of the internet. Everyone looks perfect through Instagram filters. Social media has distorted our understanding of ourselves and of the world around us because other people seem to be rich, famous, successful and stupid happy all the time. We watch highlight reels while we’re having a bad day, sitting on the couch wearing no makeup and destroying a bag of chips. The results are that we think there’s something wrong with us and everyone else is flawless and has their sh*t together.

In the article, 21 Proven Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome,” by Kyle Eschenroeder, he says, “This problem is only getting worse as more of us rely on our online presences. We’re in this weird culture where you’ve got to sell yourself aggressively while remaining ‘authentic.’ You think you need to be perfect but you also need to feel free to fail. You need to be yourself and more! It’s all set up to make you feel like a fraud.” I couldn’t agree more.

Today it’s also expected that we look “professional” and “hirable” all the time and that we’re always moving up career and corporate ladders. The pressure to have a “good job” and bring home $100,000+ this year is enormous. We’re always trying to keep up with the Joneses by constantly moving up socio-economic brackets. We tend to feel inferior to other students, co-workers, neighbors and peers, forcing us to try to reach higher.

Unfortunately, as soon as we do reach an accomplishment, nothing really changed. We don’t feel like we’re complete, we don’t feel as if we’ve made it and we worked hard, and we don’t feel proud. Instead, we immediately focus on the next goal. (Side note: I know I’m like this with milestones in my blog. As soon as I accomplish something or make progress, my mind instantly goes to the next project or post that I have to do to make it better.) Our restless minds want to jump to what’s next, instead of slowing down.

Last, there’s social expectations and family expectations. This is the kind of pressure that we get about how we should be living our lives, the hobbies we should have, the food we should eat, the house we should buy, the way we should behave, the things we should say, the things we shouldn’t say, the opinions we should and shouldn’t have. There’s all this pressure to meet expectations from the groups around us. It can be too much. We’re so busy trying to fit an image that others want us to be that when we do reach accomplishments, we’re so wrapped up in the outside world it’s hard to calm down and just feel proud. Probably because we do things for the external validation (from society, family, and friends) hoping that it will bring us internal validation in the end, while being able to view everyone else’s success 24/7 on our smartphones … but it doesn’t work that way.

A message to my fellow dreamers out there

The ironic thing about imposter syndrome is that it limits your potential. You would think that it makes you work so much harder so you’ll able to accomplish more and reach your goals, right? No.

Constantly telling yourself in your mind that you’re a fraud, you’re not capable, you’re stupid, and you’re not worthy of your dream will prevent you from ever reaching it. You’re literally sabotaging yourself every moment of every day. The time that you wasted thinking about how you’re not worthy would be much better spent lifting yourself up, working hard and being your own damn cheerleader.

I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you don’t deserve success and you’re a phony, then you’re making that your reality. I also want to add that you’ll likely have bad days. It happens. Honor them when they come, and let yourself work through it. But don’t let that become your everyday life. Silence that negative voice in your head or it’s going to be an extra weight that you have to carry up the mountain of being successful.

It gets worse before it gets better (everyone’s a critic)

So this is probably not a surprise to anyone, but the moment you decide to really go for what you want in life people will try to stop you. People will question you, people will judge you, people will tell you “you’ve changed,” and people will be confused. You’re becoming a person that is so different than the quiet friend or family member that went along with what they thought they were supposed to do.

They’re probably going to lose their minds because people do NOT like change. They’re going to be thinking, “What the f*ck is going on? This person in front of me is different than the person I know. They’re no best-selling author, they’re no Emmy winner, they’re my cousin, sister, daughter, brother, niece, friend…”

You’ll take concerned, nosy questions from family members like bullets. You’ll be unfollowed by friends and acquaintances on social media. People don’t want that whole “new me” stuff clogging up their feed!

Why? Because everyone’s a critic. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is an expert about what’s best for you.

But … look at the bright side

Any person who was ever successful in their life went through the same thing. Everyone, at some point, was a nobody following a dream while people stared at them thinking, “Who the f*ck do you think you are?” Ask any successful musician or news anchor or influencer or celebrity. There was a time before they were hot sh*t when no one else believed in their dreams.

I just watched “Bohemian Rhapsody” a little while ago, so I’ll use Queen as my next example. (Such a good movie by the way.) There was a time when a few guys in college had a dream of being musicians but had nothing of their own and no real support. There was a time when Farrokh Bulsara wasn’t Freddie Mercury. He was viewed as a weird, strange, big-toothed kid whose own family didn’t believe in him but was trying to turn himself into a somebody. Imagine if they weren’t crazy enough to believe that they could be stars. Imagine if they let imposter syndrome and outside opinions run the show. The world would have never been blessed with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” “We Will Rock You” or “Another One Bites the Dust.”

The point is, the world is going to throw critics and opinions and negativity at you. Don’t do it to yourself too. Regardless of what you thought up until now, regardless of what your ex said to you, or what your family thinks, or what your grouchy 65-year-old professor thinks, you have f*cking potential. You’re capable, you’re worthy, and you’re going to do great things. Let that be the thought you tell yourself when imposter syndrome breaks in and starts making a home in your head.

What can you do?

So now that I’ve explained to you what imposter syndrome is, what types there are, and shared my own perspective, I want to give you some concrete pieces of advice. Here are my 11 steps for battling imposter syndrome while you’re chasing your dream. And you can start this right now!

  1. Know this: No amount of external validation will make it go away

Imposter Syndrome is an internal issue. It doesn’t matter how many followers you get, how many messages you get, how many people ask for your autograph, how much money you make, or how many people say they’re proud of you or tell you, “good job.” So don’t go looking for anyone or anything else to feed your ego. You might feel good for those 3 seconds, but it doesn’t last and it actually makes the problem worse. Having people constantly tell you that you’re great will only add to the fear of being exposed as a fraud.

2. Remember that everyone has it

Imposter syndrome is just another one of those things that’s part of the human experience. We’re all human and we’re all going to have fears, doubts, depression, sadness and insecurity. It’s not like you’re on a planet by yourself dealing with imposter syndrome while everyone else in the universe is living fabulous and free of fear. You’re not alone in this. The reality is that we all live in our own reality. We all have our own experience and our life experience is so small compared to everything else that exists in the world. It’s easy to be so focused on ourselves and forget that there are billions of other people struggling through these emotions too. Sometimes just reminding myself that this problem is not unique to me is enough to make me feel better.

3. Focus on what you can do for others

Every successful content creator and business person will tell you that you have to focus on what you can do for your target audience and I think that’s great advice – not just for making money but for real-life challenges too. If you find yourself worried about yourself and what other people will think of you, shift that attention on to your audience, whoever that may be. Instead of worrying about what people will think of your blog, worry about what you can do to continue to inspire and help your audience. Instead of worrying about your clients suddenly waking up and discovering you suck, focus on what you can do to improve for your clients and make them happier. Shift the attention away from yourself and make it about how you can HELP. It takes the pressure off, I promise.

4. Keep a folder of the nice things people send you

I learned this piece of advice from influencer, podcaster, blogger, and photographer, Jenna Kutcher. She keeps an album on her phone of screenshots of all the heartfelt messages her fans send her. Not every single one of them, but the messages or emails that speak to her and showed her that she’s accomplishing what she intended, she’s helping people, and she’s making an impact. Whenever she gets a hateful comment or has a really bad day, she goes back and looks at the lovely things that people have taken their time and energy to write for her and it makes her feel so much better. So I started doing that! Every time I get a very flattering message or text from someone I save it to my album and look through it if I’m ever feeling really down and wondering if what I’m doing is really worth it.

It’s not weird or creepy or self-absorbed. It’s a reminder that you are capable and so many people love you, support you, and look up to you. I just read through some of my saved messages the other day and it immediately put a smile on my face.

5. Remind yourself that there are 8 billion people in the world

So this is a really weird thing that I’ve been doing for the past few months whenever I find myself feeling like I have no place here. When I find myself thinking, “Why would anyone care about me when there’s millions of other bloggers, writers, influencers, and wellness warriors out there?” When I find myself thinking that there can’t possibly be a tribe out there for me, and there can’t possibly be people who would want to buy MY books or read MY blogs, I tell myself, “There are 8 billion people in the world.” That thought instantly shuts off any doubt and worry I have.

Anytime I think I’ll never be able to get readers, I tell myself that there are 8 billion people out there. That thought instantly reminds me of all the possibility and potential for success. Obviously, my target audience exists and there are people who would connect and relate with me more than they would with other writers. There are so many people! They just haven’t found me yet. But they’re out there. There are 8 billion people out there, some of them are bound to like me and want to support me. Some of them are bound to want to subscribe to the blog. Some of them would love to buy my future books. Some of them would absolutely love what I’m doing and be fierce readers until the end. There’s 8 billion potential readers, followers, and supporters. I’ll be just fine. My tribe is out there waiting. It’s silly to imagine that it’s not.

6. Remember you don’t get a repeat life

All of us get only one lifetime. At the end of yours, do you want to be the person who didn’t do everything they wanted to do when you were younger? Will you look back and see that you were too concerned about pleasing others and just did what others expected? Will you regret that you didn’t give yourself permission to do what you really wanted to do? Time is the universe’s most precious commodity. Spend it wisely and make it count.

7. Try stream of consciousness journaling

Just for one day, take some time and sit down and do stream of consciousness journaling. Don’t just write about anything, write especially about your accomplishments and how you made them happen. Write in great detail about everything you did until you have reached your outcome. Write about what you’re most proud of yourself for and why. Write about all of your mistakes and write about how they helped you grow. Writing unfiltered and in great detail about your accomplishments and why you’re proud could help you see the distortion and discrepancy between the amazing things you did and the thoughts contaminated by imposter syndrome. As long as you make an effort to be positive instead of using it as another opportunity to sh*t talk yourself, you’ll be fine. It might feel odd at first forcing yourself to write unfiltered about how accomplished and proud of yourself you are, but once you do you realize that’s the truth. Not that negative feedback loophole that plays in your head.

8. Talk to supportive people

There’s nothing that helps more than talking to someone supportive. Someone who can relate to what you’re going through. We all have that person we reach out to when we need help and real advice, not clique answers like “you’ll be fine,” or “just relax.” Call that person! Friends can sometimes see us more clearly than we see ourselves. You might be thinking you’re a fraud, but they will be there to remind you of everything they admire about you and what you’re doing right. Don’t feel nervous and uncomfortable about it! People are flattered when you confide in them and you will feel so much better.

9. Take a moment to just feel proud

Whenever you think of it, or whenever you start feeling really down about yourself, take a moment to yourself to just feel proud of yourself. I know this seems too simple, but it works. Whenever I start feeling that imposter syndrome is taking over, I make myself sit down, close my eyes, calm down and think of everything that I’m proud of. Let me tell you it feels so awkward and forced in the beginning, but that feeling goes away. Within a few minutes, all that negativity will dissipate, and you’ll be reminded of how wonderful you are and of the good that other people see in you. No matter how awkward it is in the beginning, push through it and really give the exercise a chance.

10. Do NOT hold yourself back

Whatever you do, never let imposter syndrome keep you from going for what you want. You’ll feel so happy that you really went for the life you wanted. Once you do take the leap, you actually start to see yourself becoming the person you wanted to be. When I first started blogging, I felt like a huge imposter, and I felt like no one would ever be interested in what I had to say, but now over a year later, it doesn’t even faze me. I pushed through the initial awkward period and eventually saw myself becoming that person I wanted to be. It will happen to you too. This tough moment could just be a phase and nervousness about starting a new endeavor, so don’t let it prevent you from getting to the good part!

11. Consider a social detox

Now that we live in a time where we see how great everyone else’s life is 24/7, you’re not going to want to expose yourself to that if you’re going through a period of self-doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes it’s best to just put the phone down or else you could just fuel the fire. If you want to learn more about talking a social media detox, read my blog post, “How to Have an Instagram Detox.” I take a little detox whenever I find self-comparison is taking over and I need some clarity.

Thanks for reading!

I really hope that my experience helps you and I hope you learned something about imposter syndrome that you didn’t know before. Maybe, like me, you didn’t even know that you had it or how you expressed it. I hope that my dropping vulnerability bombs, as usual, helps everyone to understand this issue is super common. You don’t have to suffer with it in silence.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Was this post helpful? Have you struggled with imposter syndrome or are you struggling with it now? How does it manifest for you? What type do you have? And what advice would you give to others who struggle with it too?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

My First HydraFacial Experience: The Benefits, Facial Process, Spa Review, and Before & After Pictures

Beauty

This is not Facetune, this is the HydraFacial!

Let’s talk about something beauty related today! I feel like mixing it up. Beauty has always been one of my passions, and for years I actually wanted to go to beauty school and be in the beauty industry doing makeup and skincare! It was a dream of mine since I was a kid. I used to bring the girls over from the neighborhood and school and have “spa days” and do their skin, hair, nails, and makeup. It was so much fun.

So today, I’m bringing out that love again to tell you about a new facial that I had done, the HydraFacial. I want to take you through the before and after experience with my skin, the benefits of getting a HydraFacial, the process of the facial, and how my skin is doing now. After getting it done, I now understand why my esthetician loves them so much and why she thought it would be perfect for me. I recommend it to anyone whose skin really needs a detox and refresh.

I’m also going to be doing a spa review at the end for anyone who’s interested in learning about where I got mine done. And if you’re interested in watching the entire process of my HydraFacial in pictures and videos, you can find me on Instagram @heather.ione and click on my highlight called “Beauty.”

What is a HydraFacial?

A HydraFacial is a medical-grade, facial resurfacing treatment that creates a dramatic shift in the health of your skin in one visit without having to go through a chemical peel or microdermabrasion. It also promotes long-term skin health benefits, although you’ll want to do it  semi-regularly to keep your skin healthy and youthful, not just once in a blue moon.

The HydraFacial uses an advanced piece of 4-in-1 Vortex technology that’s able to perform deep pore cleansing, hydra peel exfoliation, vortex extraction, and vortex fusion. So you get all the benefits of a standard facial while removing all impurities, evening out skin texture, brightening the skin, and replenishing the skin with a magical mixture of hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and peptides. Each step is performed with this tube that kind of looks like a wand. The head is changed out and the machine is switched to the next setting before each one of the steps. So it’s slightly different getting this facial than it is a traditional facial where the esthetician uses her hands most of the time.

Step One: The HydraFacial begins with cleansing and exfoliating the skin and removing all dead skin cells to allow the skin to appear brighter and reflect more light.

Step Two: The light peel is applied. The esthetician uses a non-irritating mixture of salicylic acid and gluconic acid to help loosen deep pore debris and prepare the skin for extraction.

Step Three: A painless vortex extraction sucks out all of the dirt and impurities in the skin. It’s basically a vacuum for blackheads.

Step Four: The last step uses vortex fusion to push hyaluronic acid and potent peptides and antioxidants into the skin for plump, healthy, and hydrated-looking skin.

The HydraFacial is a treatment that everyone with any skin type can benefit from. It helps with fine lines and wrinkles, skin elasticity and firming, skin tone, skin texture, skin vibrancy, dark spots, oily skin, enlarged pores, and advanced signs of aging.

Why a HydraFacial was right for me

What led me to book my first HydraFacial appointment was a very unexpected and bizarre series of breakouts. One day I woke up and had breakouts all over my face including on my chin, all over my cheeks, around my mouth where the laugh lines are, and on my forehead. I think it was because I had been sick with strange health issues for months and my whole body was out of whack, including my skin. Also, since I made the move to Florida my skin has completely changed in every way. I get way more clogged pores and scarring than I ever did in my life, but it never looks this bad.

I decided to go back to Jill Stonier in St. Augustine, Florida because I knew I would be back in town and I trusted her with my skin. I needed something to help my skin and I knew it probably had to be more involved than just a standard facial. However, trying out new beauty treatments or facials, especially with an esthetician I haven’t gone to before makes me slightly nervous. There are so many places to go that I usually feel overwhelmed and get worried about choosing the wrong person. My main concern is that I have permanent makeup and I have a fear that someone would use a product that messes up my face and undoes those epic eyebrows I paid good f*cking money for. So I called Jill and sent her several photos of the craziness my skin was going through.

After seeing my skin and noticing that almost every single pore was clogged and my skin texture was bumpy, she recommended that I do the HydraFacial. I was hesitant at first because I knew nothing about it, but I decided to give it a try. By the time I saw her for my appointment, my skin has cleared up significantly, but I still had clogged pores that created an uneven texture in my skin and a forest of blackheads on my nose. It was still crying for help.

When I finally showed up for my appointment, my skin was dull, clogged, and dry. It was unhappy in almost every way. Jill promised me that my skin would be beautiful and glowing when I was done and that the HydraFacial is something that celebrities do before events.

My Full HydraFacial Experience

The facial started with Jill cleansing my skin without the machine and then cleansing and exfoliating my skin with the machine afterward. She gently moved the wand around my face to all the different areas and went over them a few times. I remember thinking that this part of it felt like I was being licked by a cat. It felt slightly scratchy, but not at all painful or uncomfortable. This part got rid of the layer of dead skin that’s been hanging around since I ditched all my fragrance ridden scrubs and cleansers. This step also used a mixture of ingredients that smooths and softens the skin, which I really needed.

In the second step of the HydraFacial, Jill used the machine to apply the light peel all over my face. She moved the wand to different spots of my face and would kind of dab it around and then use her fingertips to spread the product around smoothly. This part didn’t feel like anything, just felt like serum being applied to my face. I didn’t react to it at all or feel any stinging or burning sensations that you would usually feel after getting a peel done. It also didn’t make me red which Jill was expecting since I’m obviously super pale. So luckily when I do get a peel done in the future, it shouldn’t be a big issue.

Photo 1 taken before HydraFacial, photo 2 taken after cleansing & exfoliation, photo 3 taken after extraction, photo 4 taken after hydra-infusion.

The next step was extraction. In this part, Jill used the wand (I don’t even know if it’s called that, but let’s just go with it) to gently extract all of the junk that had found a home in my pores. I felt like a suction sensation all over my skin and Jill went over all of the areas multiple times to make sure everything was coming out. After looking in the mirror after this step, all of my blackheads were gone. It was literally like a mini vacuum for blackheads. If only I could find something like that to use at home!

The last step with the HydraFacial machine was the fusion part of it. In this step, she moved the wand all over my face as it infused my skin with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and peptides. If you watched my Instagram story as it came out, I described the sensation as feeling like a bunch of fairies were spraying water into my skin with itty bitty fire hoses. I know that doesn’t make sense at all, but I love that description! It was not at all painful, but I could almost feel as if little bubbles were being sprayed and swirled into my pores. During this part of the facial, Jill also went over my lips with the wand several times to make them look extra plump and soft.

Hyaluronic Acid: In case you’re just hearing about hyaluronic acid for the first time, hyaluronic acid is one of the best things to use on your skin to keep it healthy, soft, and youthful. Our body actually produces it naturally and its purpose is to retain water and keep our tissue moist and lubricated. It’s found mostly in our skin, connective tissues, and eyes. As we get older our skin slowly loses hyaluronic acid so using it topically is a very common anti-aging practice. I love buying 100% hyaluronic acid and serums that have it listed as one of the main ingredients. What’s different about the HydraFacial is the machine actually preps the skin, clears out the pores, and then gently pushes hyaluronic acid into the skin so it’s more effective than just rubbing it onto the top layer of the skin.

Introducing Patchology Products

After this part of the facial was finished, Jill applied Patchology FlashPatch Rejuvenating Eye Gels underneath my eyes. These eye gels contain a mixture of ingredients that are meant to soothe and moisturize the skin and reduce puffiness. Fun fact, they’re also biodegradable, which is a plus, but they do contain fragrance. The most important ingredients include:

  • Caffeine to improve microcirculation for brighter tone and reduced puffiness
  • Hydrolyzed collagen to improve skin hydration, elasticity, tone and density
  • Sodium hyaluronate to naturally bind moisture to the skin
  • Centella asiatica to encourage collagen synthesis while inhibiting skin inflammation
  • Portulaca oleracea extract, rich in vitamin C and omega 3 fatty acids to brighten the under eye

She also applied Patchology FlashPatch Hydrating Lip Gels. The gels moisture the lips better than any chapstick you will find in your life and are designed to provide deep moisture, help the lips retain water, and prevent the skin from aging so your lips look youthful, soft, and plump. These are both biodegradable and latex-free, but they do contain fragrance. The most important ingredients include:

  • Peptides to provide anti-aging benefits and soften fine lines and wrinkles
  • Green tea extract a potent antioxidant and soothing ingredient
  • Niacinamide to provide anti-aging benefits, help increase ceramide and free fatty acid levels in the skin, and prevent skin from losing water

All information about these products I learned directly from the manufacturer. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I absolutely loved this part of the facial because both the eye and lip gels where so cool and soothing and were the most relaxing part of the facial. After they had been taken off my eyes and lips were so hydrated and soft. I would definitely recommend trying them if you’re someone who is not bothered by fragrance in your beauty products.

Light Therapy

Once the gels were applied to my face, the last part of the facial included blue and red light therapy. I spent 15 minutes under the blue light and then 15 minutes under the red light. The lights are so strong that they could burn your eyes so I had to wear protective glasses during this part. Each light has there own set of benefits for the skin.

Blue Light Therapy: used in facials because it’s known to reduce inflammation, treat oily skin, speed up healing, kill bacteria, improve skin texture, remove sun spots, treat acne, remove scars that were originally caused by acne. Blue light therapy is also used outside of facials to kill skin cancer cells and treat depression.

Red Light Therapy: used in facials because it’s known to stimulate and repair cells, promote wound healing, boost circulation, improve skin condition, build collagen, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, firm the skin, mend sun damage, diminish scars, and relieve inflammation. People use red light therapy for other reasons too, including promoting hair growth, relieve pain and stiffness, reduce side effects of cancer treatments, improve joint health, and many more. Although to reap all of those benefits you would have to do red light therapy on a regular basis, meaning multiple times a week.

Public Service Announcement: I think it’s also worth mentioning that if you really want these results, you can’t just use light therapy once. Nothing is a one-time magical solution. For this reason, I’ll be introducing more facials into my routine for long term skin benefits and anti-aging benefits.

Light therapy may not be used in every HydraFacial, but Jill loves to use it in her facials because of the wide range of benefits it has on the skin. It didn’t feel warm or hot at all, which you might this it would be because it’s so bright, but it’s very comfortable. During this part of the facial Jill gave me an arm and upper body massage and used hot towels. I felt very pampered!

Once the facial was finished, Jill actually brought the container of fluid over to me that contained everything the machine has collected and sucked out of my pores. The water looks yellow and you can clearly see all of my dead skin and the nastiness that had been trapped in my skin. This picture right here is proof of why facials are so important. You can’t get that kind of exfoliation at home. 

The Results!

At the very end of the HydraFacial, my skin was bright and glowing. It was the best my skin had looked in a very long time. I did what Jill recommended, which was to leave all the product on until the end of the day for best results, and to avoid sweating or exercising, and to drink lots of water.

That night when I looked at my skin in the mirror, I noticed that my skin was much brighter, lighter, and was glowing. Most importantly, my skin texture had evened out. I had absolutely no flaking or dead skin which is a big problem for me. There was also no redness which could have happened from the light peel that was applied.

My favorite part though was my lips were much fuller and softer, and they felt slightly tingly even 24 hours later, like I had applied lip plumper.

After giving my skin a nice look-over in the mirror I noticed I only had about five blackheads on my whole nose and they were all coming to the surface. Then, after the first day, I got two breakouts on each one of my cheeks. What normally happens after your skin gets a facial is it has to go through a bit of a purge. The esthetician might not be able to clear out every pore immediately, but the process helps draw the dirt and oil to the surface. So it’s very normal to have a breakout or two appear.

Side Note: I remember meeting a girl who was in beauty school studying to becoming an esthetician and she had to take turns giving other girls facials and receiving facials so everyone could practice a few times. By the end of the week, she had about 5 to 6 facials and her skin looked INCREDIBLE, but she told me that the first several days her skin had tons of breakouts because it was purging all the junk in her pores. Moral of the story, don’t get discouraged if you get your first facial and wonder why you mysteriously got a pimple the next day.

Spa Review

The studio where I got my HydraFacial was in St. Augustine, Fla., off US 1. It’s located on Market Street in the Palencia community, which is smack dab in the middle between Jacksonville and Historic St. Augustine. Jill Stonier, a makeup artist, esthetician, and lash extension specialist has her own business there.

I can honestly say that I had such a fun time inside her ridiculously cute studio. Out of the few facials I have had I remember them being slightly awkward and boring, but it was such a good time. She’s incredibly sweet and so nice to talk to. It reminded me of being back in elementary school and middle school when I used to have my friends come over for a sleepover so we could have “spa days.”

Jill also had tons of advice for me about skincare, products, social media, and life in general. Which if you know me personally then you know that I hate taking advice from almost anyone, except for kind strangers.

I also believe that it’s not an esthetician’s knowledge that makes them great to go to (although that is super important) but it’s the little things they do that totally make the experience. Afterward, you actually want to go back and spend the time and money on your skin. The massage, the hot towels, and the light therapy were all nice touches that made the experience so much more enjoyable than the one you would have at a big chain spa.

There was also no product-pushing, up-selling, or sticker-shocking which I greatly appreciate! Isn’t that the worst when you get done being pampered and suddenly walk out of the room to be pressured into getting products or a membership? It drives me crazy!

I loved that at the very end of the facial Jill showed me the water with everything that had been extracted and exfoliated from my skin. I’m sure other people would be grossed out by that but I loved it! It was cool to physically see how well the HydraFacial had worked. It’s kind of like when you use a Biore Blackhead Removal Strip and you can see all the blackheads that came out of your pores. Yeah, it’s gross, but it’s oddly satisfying and you can’t help but look at it after.

So if you are in the St. Augustine area and want to try this facial, I highly recommend seeing Jill. She’s so knowledgeable about skincare and obviously passionate about what she does. You’ll love her I promise. And if you’re into false lashes you can even get those done after and walk around all day feeling like a Kardashian.

Thanks for reading!

After my first HydraFacial experience, I can say that I 100% recommend getting this facial done. It’s the type of facial you would want to get before an event or before getting photos done when you really want your skin to look good. It makes the skin so plump, beautiful and hydrated.

Remember to tell me what you think in the comments! Have you had a HydraFacial done before? What was your experience like? Have you had red or blue light therapy done? Do you use it for anything outside of skincare? Have you tried Patchology products? And lastly, let me know if you would like to see more beauty content from me! If so, what kinds of treatments would you be interested in hearing my review of?

Before you go, if you like what you read here, remember to scroll all the way to the bottom, click that little “+” symbol, and enter your email address where it says, “Follow blog via email,” for my weekly blog posts to be sent directly to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

All photos are by Jill Stonier and myself, Heather Ione.

My Positive Approach to Hurtful Online Comments & Why They Don’t Faze Me

Digital Dilemma, Self-Help

I’m happy to announce that my website has it’s very first internet troll! Yep, you read that right.

As of February 19, 2019, my blog, Lost Online, received its first random and unwarranted negative comment, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I promise I’m not crazy, and I don’t enjoy fighting with strangers on the internet! It’s just that I have a much different perspective when it comes to online trolls than most people.

For starters, you know what a troll is, right? They’re shadow people who lurk around the internet and wait for an opportunity to whip up a mean comment that has the potential to ruin someone’s day and destroy a person’s confidence in just a few flicks of their fingers and the click of a button.

You see, we live in a time where technology has made it so incredibly easy for us to have, do, or say whatever we please, without any repercussions. People would NEVER say the things in person that they say to each other online. Because if you did walk around treating people like that, you’d be hit with a restraining order and charged with harassment. But something about typing up mean comments on the internet, seems like it’s not real to people. And it seems like it doesn’t really count. Like somehow it’s not really them. The internet also makes trolls so much braver and callous because it allows anyone to make up a random username and hide behind it. Before the internet, if you wanted to ruin someone’s day, you couldn’t do it from behind your keyboard and in the comfort of your own home. You actually had to have the balls to walk up to someone and say whatever you were thinking to their face and then deal with the real life consequences that follow.

But today, mean comments have become a bit of an epidemic, and it’s one of the biggest challenges that the internet has brought to us. It’s caused teenagers to take their own lives, it’s ruined careers, and it’s broken up families. Nasty comments seem so harmless to the person who’s leaving them. And I’m pretty confident that maybe internet trolls even view it as a game. Unfortunately, it can come with consequences.

In my case, someone found my blog, read a post, saw an opportunity to comment something nasty, and typed it up for me to have a nice little surprise at 6:30 am before I walked out the door for work. But I would be willing to bet my life, that the person who left it would NEVER walk up to me in person and say to my face what was so easy for them to say online.

Now, this view may seem strange given how wrong I think cyberbullying is, but I was actually happy to see this comment appear. Here’s why…

1. It was bound to happen

December 2018 is when I got serious about blogging. I was no longer treating my blog like a hobby, I was treating it like a side hustle or a new business. I had an amazingly talented photographer to help me, I was now whipping up content every week and promoting my blog on every one of my social media platforms. When I made that decision to pursue blogging seriously, I knew that negative online comments were bound to come my way.

That’s the time we live in now. It’s unavoidable. By putting yourself out into the world, sharing your stories and voicing your opinions, you’re going to attract at least a little bit of criticism, judgement and jealousy. I knew it wasn’t a matter of “if” I would someday get negative comments, it was just a matter of time. I didn’t feed those thoughts and give them my energy to manifest, I just simply knew that as a content creator, it was going to happen. It’s an occupational hazard.

With that thought in mind, I made the decision that someday when I did get a negative comment on my blog, I would make it as positive of an experience as I could. I was going to be happy about it! Why? Well, why should I waste my time being upset over a person I’ve never met? If that many people are finding my blog to the point where I start receiving all types of comments, both positive and negative, both supportive and mean, that means I must be doing something right! People are finding me and they’re taking the time to read what I have to say.

If I’m creating enough content to attract mean strangers, then I should be proud of myself! I have over 30 blog posts by now, 600 plus Instagram posts, and 8,000 viewers on Pinterest. I put a lot of hard work into what I do and I’m constantly pumping out graphics, posts, or pictures somewhere. So statistically speaking, I’m bound to get some haters based on the amount of work I’m doing online. If I didn’t attract some sort of feedback at some point, I’d be worried.

2. In order to be a successful content creator, you have to “attract or repel”

I like to follow well-known blogger, podcaster and influencer Jenna Kutcher. She’s an incredible person who has built a following of over 2 million by educating people about how to grow their brand, become a successful content creator and make money doing what you love. One thing that Kutcher always shares is that as a creator, your brand has to “attract or repel” the people that click on your website or social media. If you talk to anyone who is a successful business person, they’ll say the same thing just in different words.

So why is this? Why would I want to repel people, Heather?! I want people to like me!

Because in order to become successful, you need a niche. That means that your message appeals to a small, specific, specialized sub-group of the greater population that shares the same interests as you do. This may seem strange, but in order to make meaningful connections with people, you must zero in on a specific market that you’re going to speak to. By speaking very broadly to a large population of billions of people, you inherently connect to no one. However, by blogging to a very specific group of people with a unique set of interests, you actually end up reaching more people.

So that’s the long-winded way of me sharing that my message is both attracting like-minded people AND repelling the ones that don’t align with my message. So, I must be doing something right!

One of my favorite quotes that I’ve shared in a previous blog post, “How I Freed Myself From the Opinions of Others,” is: “You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like peaches.” And you’ll probably hear me share that again at some point.

3. Every successful person gets hate comments

The third reason why I was happy to see this negative comment appear one morning is because every single successful podcaster, blogger, YouTuber, and influencer gets negative comments. Regularly. It’s part of their daily life. They have so many freaking eyes on what they do that obviously mean, envious, and unhappy people are going to see their work at some point. It’s not like the nice people and the mean people live in two separate worlds that are invisible to each other!

Back in January, I actually told myself, “I’ll know that I’ve made it once I get a hate comment.” I think I even voiced it to Matt, too. Not because I want to read terrible comments about myself, but because I knew it was bound to happen the moment my story started to appear on screens all over the world. Receiving a nasty comment here and there shows that I’m making progress, I’m being seen. With how many posts I have and how many readers are starting to show up, at some point one of my posts with strike a nerve with some people, even though that’s not my intention.

4. If you’re not pissing people off, you’re doing something wrong

Seriously, if you’re not upsetting at least someone out there you’re doing something wrong. Anything worth living for is going to make people mad. Quitting your 9-5 to pursue a dream is going to piss your parents off. Marching with a sign during a protest to create a change in your community is going to make smoke come out of someone’s ears. Standing up and saying, “I’m a woman and I deserve to have the rights to my body.” Yeah, that will make more than a few people angry. Losing 40 pounds and getting a six pack is going to make your haters hate you even more. Becoming a famous celebrity who earns $30 million a year, yeah someone will hate you for that too. Or even just opening yourself up online and being super vulnerable in a blog post in hopes of helping people struggling with similar issues, that will make someone angry too.

If you lived your life to make other people happy, you would literally never accomplish anything. You’d never make any progress, you would never grow, and the only words you could speak would be please and thank you.

In one of my posts, “Thoughts after one year of being a blogger,” I shared something about myself that I was not proud to admit. I shared that there was a beautiful, positive wellness blogger that I knew who I was extremely envious of. She was very similar to me and decided to pursue her dream of being a blogger. So she built her website, inspired people, posted beautiful photos, and shared her story. And it made me mad! Because I dreamt of being a blogger for FIVE YEARS but I was too petrified of what someone would think to actually do it. And there she was, just living her best life and going for it. (And no, I don’t feel that way anymore in case you were wondering).

Anyone who really goes for what makes them happy or really tries to create positivity in the world is bound to take harsh comments and envious stares from others. Because while most people are good, everyone has those not-so-wonderful sides of themselves. The sides that we don’t want people to know about, the sides that you’d never even know existed.

So when someone posted a hateful comment on my blog about my love story, it didn’t faze me. Me falling in love with my boyfriend upset someone! And I’m not going to live the rest of my life refusing to be in a relationship because there will be some sad, lonely person out there who gets angry at the fact that I’m in a happy relationship.

5. They picked me!

One of the reasons why I was happy to see this little, mean comment is because an online troll decided, for whatever reason, to waste their precious energy and mental capacity on my website! They could have spent that time on anything else, insulting any other person, on any other blog. But they chose me! How nice of them.

It really is flattering in a way. Think about that next time someone direct messages you or leaves a mean comment. There’s something that’s so special about you, they had to focus on you to direct their insecurity. You’re doing so well in life that people see their own insecurities mirrored in you.

Again, this was not at all my intention! But why not be flattered that they took the time to comment on my post rather than let it bring me down?

6. It inspired the blog post that you’re reading right now!

The fifth and final reason this comment was a blessing is because it inspired this post! It inspired me to spend my day writing – the one thing that I love most! It inspired 2,500 words to flow effortlessly from my fingertips. It actually broke a bit of writers block I was having the last two weeks! Thank you, mysterious online stranger for providing me with inspiration and fresh content! I, and the readers of Lost Online, appreciate you.

Lastly, I just want to leave you with a few takeaways.

Take a good look at your actions and your habits and see if they align with what you really want from life. The person who left me the comment I’m writing about today has a very positive blog all about the Law of Attraction. If you know anything about the Law of Attraction, that’s not how it works! That angry, negative message is the exact opposite of what you will learn from any book, blog, or documentary about manifestation.

-Second, the best way to get anywhere is life is by making connections, talking to other people who share the same passions as you and by being supportive. Not by tearing other people down. That’s adulting and good-human-ing 101.

-Third, and a tip for bloggers out there – you have the ability to set up your blog in the back end so that all comments have to be approved by you! I automatically hit “delete” to any negative comments or spam that people leave me. On my homepage, I said that I started this blog to be a safe haven in cyberspace for myself and like-minded people, so I will always make it a point to clear out all of that negativity, so you don’t have to see it! And I recommend you do that too. This world needs more love, support, positivity and less judgement and cruelty. Isn’t life hard enough as it is without getting insults in your inbox?

And finally, this is not an open invitation to roast me. I do have a positive outlook on hateful comments because I know that those words come from a place of deep insecurity and unhappiness. However, that doesn’t mean I like hearing mean things about me. No one does. So, when you leave this post or this site today, remember to be kind.

I will not be sharing a whole blog post every time I get a negative comment, but I wanted to share this message about cyberbullying in hopes that it will a) remind people to be nice b) show people how pathetic it is to leave mean comments online because you would never do it in person c) give you a positive outlook if you receive or have been affected by trolls d) be an example for people who are terrified about what others think and take outside opinions to heart.

“If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans can do.” – Tara Mackey

As always, thank you so much for coming to Lost Online and remember to tell me your thoughts in the comments! Have you ever dealt with negative comments or cyber bullying before? What was said? How did it affect you? What was your perspective on it? How do you think we should deal with this issue going forward? How should we monitor it? And should there by repercussions?

If you like what you read, remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page, hit that “+”, and fill in your email address to be sent weekly blog posts directly!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

I Interview Best-Selling Poet Jennae Cecelia: Answers to My Burning Questions on Self-Love, Social Media, Pursuing Passions, & Body Positivity + Instagram GIVEAWAY

Interviews, Self-Help

Discovering Poetry

Have you ever been bored in the very late hours of the night, and before you know it you’re sucked into the abyss that is Amazon.com? Well, about a year ago, I was having one of those nights. I had just read Rupi Kaur’smilk and honey” and her new book “the sun and her flowers” just came out. It was also around the time when Allie Michelle’sExplorations of a Cosmic Soul” was published as well. So I was in a serious poetry mood. And I kept falling victim to that sneaky little section that says “Customers who bought this item also bought … ” Unlike most times, it was actually one of the few nights where I didn’t regret those extra purchases.

After I first started to read poetry, I knew that I had found something special. There was something about it that was just so real, so vulnerable, and so unapologetically authentic that I found myself turning page after page of poetry books while the tears kept flowing. We live in a time when everyone and everything is so curated, so perfect, and so ridiculously happy, that I loved how I finally had the chance to read someone’s hidden emotions. Where I could identify with someone who was also going through a moment of depression or a breakup or struggling with self-confidence and cry with them and say to myself, “Yes, I feel it too.” Poetry made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the messy moments of life that lay between the filtered photos. The times when I fought with family when I was too scared to be myself and follow a dream, and the times when I seriously doubted myself.

Poetry is raw and it tells the truth. The truth that people so rarely speak out loud and that we rarely find on social media. One of the gems I found that night was a book that jumped out at me, that I still pick up and leaf through to this day, Jennae Cecelia’s, “Uncaged Wallflower.”

Meet Best-Selling Poet, Jennae Cecelia

Unlike many poetry books, “Uncaged Wallflower” has a very uplifting message. One that was written by a fellow introvert “for those who need an extra dose of positivity in their day and push to follow their dreams.” So obviously, I devoured the book in one sitting. There’s nothing I love more than a good “follow your dreams” message. I still remember that I was so excited about the new find that I actually looked up Jennae on Instagram and followed her account. Since then, I’ve been a loyal follower and fangirl of hers.

Jennae is unlike many influencers out there today. She continues to post, speak, and write about self-love, self-care, mental health, and body positivity. She posts vulnerable content that many wouldn’t share because it’s not “insta-worthy” and she actually talks to her audience like real people.

I followed and liked along as she shared photos of her acne, her stretch marks, and her no- makeup selfies. I watched her rally other young women to be vulnerable and love themselves even though they may be “flawed.” I watched her share her self-love journey, her struggle with anxiety, and her passion for poetry and photography. I watched her in awe. It’s so rare to see others being so real and so themselves through a screen.

Over the last few years, Jennae has put so much good out for her readers on social media, published five different poetry books, and became a best-selling poet. Her authenticity, her poetry, and her positivity are what finally lead me to reach out to her and ask for an interview.

I’m so grateful and honored that Jennae was not only willing to have me interview her for over an hour on the phone AND that she was so understanding when my recorder gave up and she had to write out her answers for all of you (:

What I learned in the time we spent talking was that she is just as friendly, positive, and real in person as in social media. She opened up to me about her self-love journey, struggling with judgment and criticism from family and friends, her decision to follow her passion, her persistence to inspire other young women, and how she stays sane even while being a social media influencer.

Here are Jennae’s answers to my burning questions! I hope you enjoy, and I hope her message sparks inspiration in you too. Make sure to stay until the very end for a special GIVEAWAY!

Uncaged Conversations

Q: How old were you when you started poetry? And how did you get into it?

A: I was in high school when I first started writing poetry. It was my way of expressing the emotions I was feeling during hard times. I didn’t start taking it more seriously until my third year of college when I started taking creative writing classes. Then when I met my boyfriend I told him about all the poems I had written and he told me I should make a book out of them. So I did!

Q: Did you know at the time that you had discovered your passion? Or did it build slowly?

A: I always was very passionate about writing, but I didn’t expect it to be much more than a hobby for me. When I first started sharing my writing on social media I just did it in hopes someone else would find comfort in my words. Never did I even think to imagine what it could become.

Q: What happens with a lot of people who go into a creative profession is they take a lot of backlash from people. Did you receive any criticism or judgment from people when you decided to become a poet?

A: My family and friends were supportive at first. They were excited I was writing books and that I was seeing success. However, when I told everyone I was going to be a writer as my full-time job I received so much criticism for doing so from these same people who claimed to support me. They supported it being a hobby, but not a career.

Q: Was it difficult opening up publicly in the beginning? Or not so much? I know I felt super vulnerable once I started to share my voice, not just as a random girl on Instagram, but as a blogger who focuses on mental well-being and my journey.

A: It was hard at first, but mostly because I was afraid of what people I personally knew would think. I am the type of person who can talk to a group of 200 people I don’t know very well about super personal topics, but I would be so anxious talking to a small group of close friends about the same topics.

Q: You obviously write a lot about self-care and self-love. I’ve read so many inspirational self-love messages from you, and I’ve even seen images where you’ve shown very real things like acne scars or stretch marks. I’m wondering, what was this self-love journey like for you? What was it like learning to love yourself and your imperfections?

A: I always say, “self-love is a journey with ever-changing scenery.” The things I didn’t like about myself when I was a teen, I have grown to love now. Now there are new things I find myself critiquing myself on. Loving yourself fully is not easy. However, I have started thanking my body every morning for all the amazing things it does. I always say three things like: I am thankful for my hands that allow me to write words of inspiration; I am thankful for my legs that allow me to go on long hikes with my boyfriend; and I am thankful for my lungs that allow me to take deep breaths in and out when I get anxious.

Q: Today, you seem like such a confident person who pursues their passion and inspires other people to follow their dreams, embrace the journey, and love themselves. But were there ever times that you felt really unsure of yourself and struggled with self-discovery as you were trying to navigate through all these different outside influences (societal norms, social media, family expectations).

A: Oh yes. I constantly say that the 15-year-old me would probably roll her eyes in annoyance at some of the things I say now because I have become such an optimistic person, and it was not always that way. From 13-20 it was all about self-discovery. Learning who I did and didn’t want to be. Making lots of mistakes. Doing things just to please friends and fit in. However, as much as I am not proud of some of my choices in life if I didn’t do those things I wouldn’t be this person I am today. That doesn’t mean that I am doing everything perfect now, but I do have a better grasp on who I am which allows me to make choices for myself and not just to please other people.

Q: We live in a world that’s very filtered and photoshopped and curated to absolute perfection. Were you really nervous or hesitant to share that side of yourself with people online? The side that maybe wasn’t so #InstaWorthy.

A: I was at first, again mostly because I was afraid of people I personally know seeing my posts. When I shared a picture of my stretch marks I was scared to post it but I knew someone out there needed the message that went along with it. Same with the post I made showing all of my acne scars. Also, I have never once heard anything from the people I was worried about seeing it so it honestly just stopped mattering to me if they saw my more raw and personal posts.

Q: In my blog, I write a lot about how digital media, particularly social media, was the biggest challenge and obstacle for me. I noticed that it caused the most comparison and negative self-talk, and made me fixate on my looks and how I appeared to other people online. Did you have a similar struggle having grown up online?

A: Definitely! I was a senior in high school when Instagram started becoming popular. However, it was to post pictures of your food using the Valencia filter. Social media has changed so much in the last 5-10 years. I feel like I have gotten over comparing myself to others on social media because I know that what most people post is not the whole story. I can’t imagine being in high school or even early college now and having that pressure of taking perfect pictures and looking perfect in them. Especially when you are at an age where people liking you matters so much. I mean, it still matters to people but that age you take it way more seriously.

Q: Does being an author and a content creator pose any challenges?

A: Being an author for me now means two things. Making time to do the creative side AND the business side.  For instance, today I had 15 emails I needed to reply to however, the creativity was flowing in my mind and I really just wanted to write. It can be hard to balance marketing, emails, social media, etc. and still set aside time to be creative. Luckily, I like the business side of being an author. I love it actually! But, it does take a lot of time away from doing my number one thing I love, just freely creating all day.

Q: Looking back at everything that you’ve gone through to become the person that you are today if you could give any advice to your 14-year-old self, what would it be?

A: I would tell her this: all the roads you cross, the potholes you hit, the dead ends you reach, are shaping you into the person you are meant to be. Nothing is a coincidence, and mistakes are perfectly fine. Your beautiful soul is needed here more than you will ever know right now.

Q: How do you stay sane and stay grounded as a young woman during this overwhelming digital age? Do you have any practices or habits that make it easier?

A: I really enjoy meditating and gratitude journaling. They help me so much with keeping my mind more peaceful and reminding myself to forever be grateful.

Q: If there was any piece of advice that you would give to Lost Online readers who come to this platform for inspiration and to hear how they can stay sane during this overwhelming time? What would you say to them?

A: It is easy to get Lost Online, but don’t forget to wander through your real life.

Q: You have another book coming out soon! Any hints as to what it’s about?

A: It is a book focusing on self-care this time! I am super excited because it is a topic I am very passionate about.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I don’t know about you, but every time I read her words it puts me in a feel-good mood. If you’re ever in need of extra positivity or inspiration to follow your dreams and be unapologetically you, I would definitely recommend checking her content out. You can find Jennae on her website, on Instagram @jennaececelia, or on Amazon.

I’m also super excited because Jennae is starting a blog too! And I have no doubt that it will be wonderful. Make sure to stay in the loop with her so you can read it when it’s published! Jennae also has two more books coming out very soon, including “Losing Myself Brought Me Here.” I’m so excited to read it!

GIVEAWAY Time!

I will be hosting another Giveaway on my Instagram this week @heather.ione. Jennae has generously donated a SIGNED COPY of her Best-Selling Book “Uncaged Wallflower” to one of my followers! Make sure to go to my Instagram to read the details on how to win.

Lastly, I wanted to end with my favorite poem of Jennae’s from “Uncaged Wallflower” called “Command Your Passion.”

Remember to comment below! What’s your favorite poem or quote of hers? Which books have you read of Jennae’s? What do you think about her message? Which parts of this interview stuck out to you the most?

If you liked this post make sure you scroll to the bottom, hit that little “+”, and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email.” The next post will be sent right to you!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Mad Hippie Skincare Product Review + Instagram GIVEAWAY

Lifestyle, Product Reviews

Today I’m super excited to share this post with you, because not only is it my very first product review, but it’s also my first GIVEAWAY! (But we’ll get to the giveaway part later). I’ve been blogging for well over a year now, and have thought long and hard about doing product reviews in the past, but nothing felt right. There was no product and no brand that I loved and believed in enough to put my stamp of approval on. I knew that if I was to ever come onto my blog and discuss a product or a brand, it had to be one that I felt added value to my life AND was an all natural and ethical company, especially if it was related to clothing or skin care.

One thing you should know as a reader of mine is that I don’t ever want to promote something so I (or anyone else) can simply earn money for advertising a crap product to you. There’s a reason why I stopped studying advertising in college, just saying!

Anyway, there was nothing that I believed in enough that I felt deserved a blog post… until the day I started using Mad Hippie products.

What is Mad Hippie?

If you’re just hearing about Mad Hippie for the first time, prepare to be blown away. Mad Hippie is an anti-aging, all natural skin care line. Their skincare philosophy was built on the idea that natural skin care products should be just as effective as traditional anti-aging products. Because we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health and lather our bodies with chemicals to have beautiful, glowing skin.

They are free from any and all synthetic fragrances, dyes, chemicals, parabens, PEGs, SLS, and all the other nasty additives that you can think of. Plus, Mad Hippie is focused on sustainability. They use BPA-free pumps, print with soy inks, run their facilities off alternative energy, AND donate $1 for every single web sale to conservation efforts. As someone who has recently been making the transition to chemical-free and fragrance-free products, Mad Hippie has checked all of my boxes.

Last, but definitely not least, Mad Hippie does not test on animals or use animal products, aside from a small amount of beeswax in one product.  

Discovering Mad Hippie Skincare

I first started to become aware of Mad Hippie Skincare about 8 or 9 months ago. It kept showing up on my social media feed and health and wellness influencers seemed to love it. After hearing it so highly recommended by fitness instructors, yogis, models, and influencers, I finally decided to go to their website and learn more. That’s when I started to understand why people seemed to rave about Mad Hippie like there was no tomorrow.

I was surprised to see that Mad Hippie was anti-aging, all natural, and only offers TEN products. In my opinion, that’s when you know a company sells great products when they don’t waste their time constantly bringing in new stuff, but rather focuses on a few items that are high quality. They also list each and every ingredient in the product and the benefit of the ingredient. Lately, I feel a lot more comfortable using products that have ingredients like green tea, aloe vera, goji berry, and coconut oil than I do using products that I don’t understand. And in case you were wondering, Mad Hippie Skincare is rated as a ZERO on the Think Dirty App. This means that they are completely safe and pose no short term or long term health risks, unlike most of the products you find today. If you go on the Mad Hippie Website you can actually see every single ingredient listed and their benefits. They send you a handy little book with all the products and ingredients as well! Athough I have at least 4 of those little books now, I still love them, and it feels like I’m getting a present with every order.

My Mad Hippie Story

I remember I decided to wait until Black Friday so I could buy a bunch of Mad Hippie products at once and test them all out together. I believe that using a skincare line as opposed to just one of the items works better because each of the products is designed to compliment each other. I purchased the Cream Cleanser, Cleansing Oil, Facial SPF, Face Cream, Eye Cream, Vitamin C Serum, and Exfoliating Serum.

I was so excited over this brand that I decided to use the products every day for two months and write down every day how my skin was doing. I wanted to see if in fact Mad Hippie was worth the hype and worked as well as the other products on the market. I didn’t want to excitedly talk about this brand unless I knew it worked well, and I wanted to give it enough of a chance, rather than having the product for one week and then showing it off on Instagram. So I lined up all my Mad Hippie Skincare products, opened up a new note on my phone, and started my little experiment.

I used the whole line, and in the morning I woke up and immediately saw the change in my skin. When I woke up and looked in the mirror, my skin was actually glowing. It was clear, beautiful, and luminous. Very similar to after you get a facial. I remember being surprised by how good my skin looked just from something that I used at home without getting a facial done. I opened up my notes and wrote down these observations:

  • Skin feels very smooth, better than it usually does after I use moisturizers and serums. I still feel the moisturizer on my skin even 8 hours later.
  • Normally there is redness on my cheeks and nose when I wake up, but there’s no redness today.
  • Skin is literally glowing like I got a facial.
  • No breakouts or extra blackheads.
  • Skin is looking very “plump.”
  • Dark spots are showing less.
  • Skin is still glowing through the makeup I put on.

After two weeks, I stopped the log because it was getting old taking the time out of my mornings to write down the same thing. My skin glowed and looked much better after using Mad Hippie for the first time. The log has stopped, but my morning and nighttime routines are still filled with a relaxing Mad Hippie ritual even 4 months later. I love using Mad Hippie so much that I use the entire line. Mad Hippie fills my shelves, I have backup products ready, and I’ve deemed that this wonderful brand was worthy of the “Heather Ione stamp of approval” for all of my readers. I also want to add that the customer service at Mad Hippie gets 5 stars as well, I’ve had to reach out to them for a few random issues and they always helped me and been enormously friendly.

Cleansing Oil

The Mad Hippie Cleansing Oil is made from pumpkin seed oil, safflower oil, rosehip oil, ginger, white tea, and squalane. It works by softening and smoothing the skin, while also removing makeup and impurities. I use this product by gently massaging it all over my face each night. It helps to start breaking up the product on my face and removing more impurities than I would be able to remove with just one face wash overnight. It also helps get rid of my super stubborn eyebrow and eye makeup that clings to my skin with strength I will never understand. I then take a cotton pad and whip the oil and makeup off before I start cleansing.

Cream Cleanser

I’m a huge fan of the Cream Cleanser in this line and it’s definitely one of my favorite products. It’s made from jojoba oil, orchid extract, macadamia oil, sodium hyaluronate, algae extract, sesame oil, green tea, sodium PCA, and shea butter. I use it morning and night and it’s my favorite step in the skincare routine because it’s so soft and creamy. It feels more like I’m massaging a moisturizing cream into my face than a face wash, so I usually gently wash my face for several minutes to clear out each and every pore. (Also it’s so relaxing that sometimes I have to tell myself “OK Heather, stop rubbing your face and wash the cleanser off already. You’ve been washing your face for a weird amount of time”).

By the time I’m done cleansing, my skin already feels soft. Normally after I use another face wash, my face is left feeling dry. Other face washes leave my skin feeling squeaky clean and exfoliated, but also very bare at the same time. After washing my face with another product it feels as if my skin has been stripped down and I have to rush to moisturize my face after. But Mad Hippie Cleanser leaves it feeling fresh and healthy.

Exfoliating Serum

After cleaning my face at night, I then use the Exfoliating Serum. This product is made from glycolic acid, lactic acid, apple stem cells, gigawhite, matrixyl synthe ‘6, sodium hyaluronate, white tea, goji berry, and ceramide. I use this product by removing the dropper and place a few drops onto the palm of my hand and then use my fingertips to place some of the product on my forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. Then I gently massage the product into my skin for at least a minute. One thing that Mad Hippie shares about their product line is that it works better the more you massage the product into the skin, so I do that with each step of the routine, especially with the serums. By massaging the product into the skin it allows the product to penetrate deeper into the skin rather than sitting on the top layer.

I can always tell that this product works well because every time I use it I wake up the next morning and the palms of my hands have dead skin all over them from applying the serum to my face the night before. For this reason, I do take a break from the Exfoliating Serum once in awhile.

Vitamin C Serum

After cleansing my face in the morning, I then use the Vitamin C Serum. This product is made from vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, hyaluronic acid, konjac root, chamomile extract, and clary sage. This is another one of my absolute favorite products from this line because it literally makes your skin glow. It might make you believe in magic, just saying. How Mad Hippie is able to create a serum naturally that makes your skin glow is beyond me. Applying this serum to my face is one of my favorite parts of the morning. Instantly my skin looks brighter, even, and beautiful, and the glow stays even after I apply makeup.

For this reason, the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum has a bit of a cult following and I received several messages from people obsessed with the Vitamin C Serum after sharing on Instagram that I bought the Mad Hippie Skincare line. If you haven’t tried this brand before and you’re looking to test it out, I would recommend this product to you first.

Eye Cream

After the cleansing and applying serum to my face, I always put on the Eye Cream next. This is my other obsession with this line and I’ve probably bought four of the Mad Hippie Eye Creams in the last few months. It’s made from matrixyl synthe ‘6, Regu-age, SunEye, chamomile extract, pomegranate, vitamin C, wheat protein, vitamin B3, argan oil, white tea, ceramide, and vitamin E.

I have tried many eye creams since I was a teenager. I used to buy new beauty products each and every week, and trying out skincare products was a full-blown obsession at one point. I’ve tried A LOT, and this Mad Hippie Eye Cream is my favorite I have ever used. It’s extremely soft and creamy, and when I wake up in the morning I can still feel the cream on my skin. However, it’s not at all heavy. I’ve used eye creams that irritated my eyes, weighed them down, made me look tired, and felt heavy. This one doesn’t do that. You’ll still feel the product on your skin but not in a way that bothers your eyes, rather it just says on through the night so your skin will stay soft. The Mad Hippie products are created with the ingredient ceramide to form a light barrier on your skin to hold in the moisture and protect the skin.

This is a product that I actually buy two of at a time so I never have to worry about being without it. Yes, I have separation anxiety with my eye cream. Don’t judge me.

Facial Moisturizer

Of course, after cleansing and serum, I finished my routine with moisturizing my face. The Mad Hippie Facial Moisturizer is made with matrixyl synthe 6’, Syn-Tacks, coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, green tea, niacinamide, aloe vera, coconut oil, argan oil, acai berry, and pomegranate. I love this product because just like the other products, a little goes a long way. I only have to use a small amount of my entire face to wake up with soft, smooth skin in the morning. Just like the eye cream, the product forms a protective layer on the skin so it holds in the moisture all day or all night. I use this product in the morning and at night to moisturize my skin.

Facial SPF

During the day, after I’ve applied my moisture, I use a little bit of SPF over my face. The Mad Hippie SPF is made from zinc oxide, red raspberry seed oil, avocado oil, carrot seed oil, vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid, shea butter, jasmine oil, and sodium hyaluronate. It’s a 30+ SPF and it lasts a long time. I used a small amount of this product on my face every morning for the last 4 months and it’s still nowhere near gone. It works incredibly well because of the zinc.

I’ve noticed that the product is tricky to rub in I think because the moisturizer or the SPF starts to peel off if you rub it too much, so I usually rub the SPF into my hands and then pat it all over my face. It works so well that even when I accidentally got sunburned all over my body (because I apparently forgot that I’m Irish and Canadian and that I need to use sunscreen like a motherf*cker) my face was still its usual vampirian color. White. As. Sh*t.

Thank you, Mad Hippie!

My little skincare experiment is now over, but I’m officially hooked on Mad Hippie Skincare products. I still have yet to try the Vitamin A Serum, the Facial Mist, or the Antioxidant Facial Oil, but those are on my list!

I fell in love with this brand because it works so well and is completely natural and healthy for your skin. Mad Hippie doesn’t believe that women (or men) should have to sacrifice their health for beautiful skin. We shouldn’t have to lather our body in foreign chemicals or “fragrances” just to wake up with soft skin and prevent wrinkles. This line has also been raved about by Think Dirty, saying that they’re “Mad for Mad Hippie,” and just about every fashion and beauty magazine you can think of. It’s been talked about in Allure, Women’s Health, the Today Show, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, USA Today, Forbes and more. It’s not just me who’s obsessed with Mad Hippie.

Like I said in the beginning, I will never come to this blog and promote a crap product to my readers. This is a platform that I use to discuss my passions, my favorite things, my obsessions, and my beliefs. Everything that I shared in this post is my own opinions and beliefs. This post has NOT been paid for, however…

It’s GIVEAWAY Time

Mad Hippie has generally donated two products for Lost Online to have its very first GIVEAWAY! I will be giving away one Cleansing Oil and one Antioxidant Facial Oil on my Instagram very soon! All you have to do follow me on Instagram @heather.ione, find my photo of me with these two special products and tag THREE of your beautiful friends for a chance to win!

Go enter to win on my Instagram for a chance to receive the Mad Hippie Cleansing Oil and Antioxidant Oil! And as always let me know what you think in the comments and scroll to the bottom on this page to subscribe and have all future Lost Online blog posts sent directly to you!

Have you tried Mad Hippie before? What did you think? Which products did you try and which ones were your favorites? Or do you have another natural, fragrance-free skincare brand that you’re obsessed with! Let me know, I’m always interested in trying new things!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How to Find Balance & Inner Peace as a Busy, Working Woman

Lifestyle

Sitting at my desk I can feel my mind racing a million miles an hour. I have 500 product listings to manage at work, 30 blog posts that all need Pinterest graphics, 20 New Year’s Resolutions, at least 10 blogs I’m working on at home – Oh, and did I mention I’m trying to go vegan?

This is how the modern era is, thanks to technology, social media, and our own amazing aspirations, the calendar is always full of stuff to get done. Personally, I find that color-coordinating my calendar helps the most. Red is for the important sh*t; Blue is for fun things and social events; Purple is the random stuff like errands; Yellow is anything related to my blog; Pink is for the doctors’ appointments… you get the idea. But that’s not what this blog post is about. It’s about balance. How do we find balance during a time when we have at least 100 goals for ourselves, a full-time job, side hobbies, friends, and a boss to keep happy – all while trying to get to the gym and eat healthy? How?

I may seem like the last person you would take advice about this from, and until last month, I wouldn’t have believed that I would find that balance myself. Fortunately, after a full night of journaling and reflecting on my last year and my aspirations for the New Year, I wrote the words to myself that I most needed to hear. “You do not need to do it all.

I don’t think I’m unlike many 20-something women my age. I have high expectations for myself, I never say no to new projects and my computer is open to 12 tabs at any given moment. I have gotten so immersed in this digital age that I sometimes feel like I expect myself to be a computer. To be productive all the time and to stay healthy and functioning, even if I’m running low on energy. That mindset is what created the person I was in 2018: a person filled with stress and anxiety, who still couldn’t meet my own expectations. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.

I could see while reflecting on the last year that I became so involved in graduating, in running my blog, in my personal goals and in my new job, that I became a wreck (and a rather unpleasant person to be around). So, there I was journaling away on my computer in late December thinking about how overwhelming (but still wonderful!) the last year had been. Although I still had tons of aspirations for the New Year, I didn’t want to bring that same stressful energy along with me.

And I kept writing because it’s medicinal to me. I wrote all about my high standards for myself and how cruel I had been to myself in the last 365 days, all because I wasn’t superhuman. I realized that even on the good days when I accomplished the most, I still beat myself up and thought, “I could have done more.I could have done one more paragraph, I could have run one more mile, I could have made one more graphic, I could have written one more post… but in the end, I realized that all that did was make me feel terrible. All that negative self-talk and the stress I was putting on myself didn’t benefit me in the slightest. Because at the end of the day, who really cares if I couldn’t do it all? No one is ever going to know that I didn’t create some Pin that I thought up. No one is ever going to know or care that I didn’t stretch that day, or that I only ran one mile on the treadmill. These were goals I set for myself, so why have I been taking them so seriously? No one, no matter how productive and energetic they are, can do everything. It’s just not possible.

In those late hours of typing away, I was discovering for the first time what should have been common sense: I am not a computer; I am not technology; I was not born to be productive; it’s OK if it all doesn’t get done. Moving forward, I wanted to spend 2019 feeling proud of myself. Spending that time embracing every moment of growing my blog, becoming healthier, getting stronger, and learning more. At the end of the day, I want to feel happy with myself because I’m working so hard to improve.

Somehow in that one journaling session, that became my intention for the upcoming year. In 2019, I would end the day feeling happy and feeling proud of myself for what I got done. Even if I hadn’t checked off everything on my to-do list. Even if I hadn’t done all of my self-improvement rituals. That’s how I stay grounded and stay balanced this year. Even though the world continues to demand things from me, and even though I still have a to-do list, none of that is worth my mental health. I am not computer software that been designed to work 24/7. I need sleep, I need days off and I need to treat myself with respect. So do you.

Now whenever I find myself feeling overwhelmed, whenever I don’t complete my self-made to-do list, whenever I don’t have the energy to work anymore–I let it be. I remind myself that it’s OK. I’m doing the best that I can. Yes, sometimes I forget to do that. And when that happens, I also let it be. Because you and I, we’re human. You can’t update us like computer software and we’re completely fine for a year. It’s OK if we slip up. The best thing that we can do for ourselves in this digital age, is to feel comfortable just being. To be OK with sitting in silence eating without the TV on and without checking our phones. To feel like we can turn it off in the evenings and relax. To make the thought, “It’s OK if I don’t get this done immediately,” become the knee jerk reaction instead of letting our minds run wild. This year I made the decision to remind myself that I’m a human being, not a human doing. I think that you should too.

I’m not here today to offer you “10 Tips for Finding Balance” or “5 Ways to Relieve Stress.” Because isn’t that just another to-do list? I’m here to give you, and me, permission to just be. To just relax and unplug for a moment. That’s the way you find balance and treat anxiety today. Get comfortable with quiet, with rest, with days off, with being unplugged. Remember what it was like before you had a blog, a business, a smartphone, and social media accounts. Remember what it was like before you had a million responsibilities–and sit with that. When you do, you’ll finally find that balance and that inner peace you’ve been craving in the chaos of modern life.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you found it difficult to stay balanced? What were the biggest challenges for you? How have you coped with this even as life continues to make demands? Do you have any mantras, journal prompts or habits that make it easier? Or maybe you’re a badass and don’t have this problem at all! Congrats! Tell me your secret below!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How I Limited My Exposure to Chemicals and Found Safe Alternatives to Toxic Consumer Products

Health

At the end of last week’s blog post about the fragrance loophole and greenwashing, I left you on a little bit of cliffhanger about what to do next. After reading all about the toxic chemicals that fill our everyday products, you might be thinking, “OK Heather, I’m terrified! How do I protect myself?!” So now that I have you scared out of your mind, believe it or not, there are actually several things that you can do to make sure that the products you’re bringing into your life are safe and healthy.

I would like to first add that clearing out all of the dangerous consumer products in our lives is not an easy task. Most people do not have the means or the time to throw out every body product and cleaning agent in their lives and purchase all new things. So I would like to start this post by saying that if you do want to clean up the products in your life, don’t be hard on yourself about it. Don’t feel like it has to happen instantly. Don’t feel like you have to know everything right away. I’m still learning about the fragrance issue and I’m still trying to search for replacements for products that I’ve used for years. So it’s OK if this change takes a few weeks or a few months, as long as you are making the change! That’s why I put together some information for you in this post to make the transition a little bit easier. I wanted to share a few things that I have been doing to limit my exposure to chemicals so you have a place to start.

Second, I wanted to mention that several people I’ve talked to about this issue of fragrance and greenwashing feel overwhelmed and helpless OR want to throw out everything they own immediately. I’ve noticed that some people approach the problem with the thought process of, “Oh well, everything causes cancer. There’s nothing you can do about it.” But that is not at all true. And if you ask me, I think that throwing your hands in the air and saying that you’re helpless when it comes to this issue is both irresponsible and lazy.

Yes, it will take some research, time, money, trial and error, but you will figure it out and you and your family will be much better off! It just takes doing a little bit of research and switching that automatic instinct to buying something, to one of curiosity about the product. It takes training yourself to flip over a product and reading the ingredients before throwing it in a shopping cart! It’s really that simple. With that being said, here are a few things that you should know that will make a difference in your life today.

The Think Dirty App

In this mission to rid myself of chemicals over the last several weeks, I went searching for resources to make it a little bit easier. As I discussed in last week’s post, even if you do read ingredients, you might not always be able to tell how safe a product is unless you’re very familiar with chemicals and their side effects. Plus, you can’t rely on products that appear natural, because most of the “natural products” contain fragrance and use sneaky greenwashing tricks. One of these resources I discovered is a magical little app called “Think Dirty.” I’ve downloaded many different apps to help me discover what’s really in our products, but none of them stack up to Think Dirty!

Think Dirty was started by a woman, Lily Tse, who had a long history of cancer and breast cancer in her family. Due to her own personal journey and research into consumer products she learned all about the fragrance loophole, greenwashing, and the irregulation of our products. Through her own journey, she discovered that finding safer products for herself was very challenging. So she wanted to create a tool for consumers that compares products easily and has transparency about the ingredients in them. That’s how Think Dirty was born.

Think Dirty allows you to search a body or household product and see the potentially dangerous chemicals that are in them. Each product is reviewed and researched so you figure out just how safe or toxic a product is before you make a purchase. Each ingredient listed on the product’s label is evaluated for documented evidence of Carcinogenicity, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity, and Allergenicity & Immunotoxicity. This allows the user to see if the product is completely safe or if it could cause short term versus long term health risks.

It shows consumers this by listing every ingredient in the product and then ranks them on a “Dirty Meter” that ranges from 0-10. Products that are in the green are rated as a 0-3 and do not contain any ingredients which have a documented potential negative health impact; products that are in the yellow are rated as a 4-7 and contain ingredients that have a moderate negative long term health effect; and products that are in the red are rated as 8-10 and have potentially serious negative long term health effects.

What’s also great about Think Dirty is if any product is not on the app, you can scan the barcode, type in the product and company information, and it will be reviewed. Currently, there are over 1.1 million products reviewed on the app and it’s still growing!

In the Red

When I first discovered this app, you can probably guess what came next… Matt and I immediately went to the bathroom to look up all of our products and discover what they rated on the Dirty Meter, and what we saw on the screen was so disheartening. All of the common products we both used for years were in the red. Take a look at my favorite products and where they rated:

  • Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash – 8
  • Dove Sulfate Free Deep Moisture – 8
  • Sensodyne Toothpaste – 6
  • Dove Clinical Protection Deodorant – 8
  • Mary Kay Eye Makeup Remover – 8
  • Soft Soap Hand Soap – 8
  • Burt’s Bees Deep Cleansing Cream – 5
  • Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Hand Cream – 8
  • Gold Bond Body Powder – 8
  • Barbasol Shaving Cream – 8
  • Garnier Fructis Flat Iron Perfector Straightening mist – 8
  • Bore Pore Cleansing Strips – 7
  • Alvera Aloe and Almonds Roll On Deodorant – 8
  • Formula 10.06 Sea Side Glow Skin Hydrating Peel Mask – 8
  • Burt’s Bees Brightening Serum – 8
  • Herbal Essences Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner – 8

So there I was standing in the middle of a huge mess in my bathroom, discovering for the first time the true dangers of the products I had lathered on my skin every day for years! I’m not gonna lie, I was completely overwhelmed. I realized that I had to replace nearly every body product I owned, which was no small task. It all started with a big box to throw away the old stuff, a notepad to write down the products I would have to search for, and several weeks of trying out safer alternatives.

With that being said, here are the six changes that I’ve made to drastically reduce the amount of chemicals I’m exposed to without losing my mind…

How I approached this transition

1. Purging all fragrances

My first order of business was purging every product that had a fragrance listed as an ingredient. This includes all cleaning products, all skincare products, all soaps. Everything. After watching the “Stink” documentary, I was very concerned about the fact that I didn’t know what was in the fragrance ingredient. So I first started removing all of that.

However, after I discovered the Think Dirty app, I realized that several of my products may not have had a fragrance, but that didn’t mean they were necessarily safe either. I also wanted to pull all those old products back out so I could learn if what I had been using in the past causes short term or long term health risks. I put a big box in the bathroom one night, read every single label and searched every item on Think Dirty whether they had fragrance or not.

2. Tossing out the high-risk products

It took about an hour for me to look up every product we owned and realize that 9 out of 10 of our products were in the red. So I decided that rather than try to replace everything overnight, I would concentrate on the products that were an 8 or higher. I would clear out the most dangerous ones first!

This, unfortunately, meant the products I use on a daily basis: the toothpaste, the shampoo, the conditioner, and the deodorant. The things that you use every single day which are more difficult to find a quick and safe replacement for. Some of the products I had to keep for a week before I could get my hands on safer toothpaste or deodorant, but they were my top priority.

3. Using Think Dirty to find new products

The next step required spending a few nights searching for replacements on the app. It also required me to evaluate what types of products I would be willing to use instead. Would I buy products that were only in the green and rated a 3 or lower of the Dirty Meter? Would I buy products that were green and yellow and rated a 7 or lower? What level would I feel comfortable and safe using from now on?

I ultimately decided that the products I would use instead would be a 4 or lower–meaning that they wouldn’t cause any long term health risks. Bumping it up to a 4 also meant that I could give myself some leeway and that I didn’t have to be perfect.

This step required some time on Think Dirty to discover products that were in the green but also were reasonably priced. One of the big issues with going fragrance-free and chemical free is that products that are the healthy replacements can sometimes cost 3 to 5 times as much as what you used to buy.

Another challenge is that the “safe” shampoos, deodorants, toothpastes, soaps, etc., don’t work as well. They might not lather or foam up as nicely, or taste as good, or make you feel as fresh or squeaky clean as what we’re used to using, or last for as long. So this step could take you one week, or it could take you months to find a replacement. Stay strong, it will happen! It took me several weeks, but I finally found several replacements that I finally feel are good enough to use on my body every day. See below for my new collection of body products that pose no long term health risks!

Side Note: Keep in mind that when using the Think Dirty App, you’ll have to look up each product individually. Sometimes a shampoo will rank as an 8, but a conditioner will rank as a 3. You’ll also have to look up each variation of the product. A product may be in the same line but have different scents or ingredients, which means that every product will rate differently on the app. You can’t just assume that every hand soap is in the green because you looked up one on Think Dirty.

4. No longer use body lotion

The next change I decided to make was to go natural for some of the products I use all the time rather than purchasing a new product. One of these examples is that I decided to stop using lotion and instead use coconut oil. It works just as well but it doesn’t require me to spend all day searching for something else, it’s inexpensive, and it’s completely natural. I don’t have to worry about a dirty meter at all!

5. Switched to natural tampons

Throughout the last two months of making this change, I knew that I had to focus on the other items I was using that I had also turned a blind eye to for many years, tampons. Our conventional tampons contain fragrance as well! Along with alcohols, additives, and hydrocarbons. Another issue with conventional tampons is that many of them are bleached, which leaves behind other chemicals that we soak up through one of the most absorbent and sensitive areas of the female body. For this reason, one of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to switch to completely organic tampons that I didn’t have to worry about using.

I came across one brand, in particular, that’s inexpensive, can be found at your grocery store or drugstore, and is in the green on Think Dirty! It actually has a little green check next to it instead of a number, that’s how you know it’s super safe! They’re from a brand known at Seventh Generation. The Seventh Generation tampons are BPA-free, fragrance-free, cruelty-free, and are made from 95% plant-based materials. It’s simple changes like this that can drastically improve your long term health.

6. Switched to natural candles with essential oil

Another item that I decided I should be paying equal attention to is the candles that we burn in our home. I no longer trust the Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Whatever candles that I used to buy on sale at Marshalls or Bath and Body Works. Instead, Matt and I are using candles that are natural-made with essential oils instead of a man-made fragrance.

7. Saying goodbye to the Amazon shopping sprees

The last two changes that I wanted to share are about the clothing that we wear. Because it’s not just our lotions and potions that are filled with chemicals. It’s actually on our clothes too. I mentioned this in the previous post about fragrance on clothing that gave me horrible allergic reactions and caused massive hives on my whole body. In my high school and college years when I was obsessed with online shopping, I used to buy so many blouses and graphic tees from Amazon.

It wasn’t just Amazon. I shopped on many online stores that you would see in the mall, but the majority of the time when I had a serious allergic reaction, it was caused by something that I bought on Amazon. Like a big, cozy scarf, or a pretty new blouse, or a sweater, or sports bra, or tank top. Many times I would open a box of clothing from Amazon and immediately smell the chemicals on them. These were the products that would cause the hives and the burning sensations on my skin. Because, as I mentioned last week, America doesn’t regulate chemicals as strongly as other countries too. Oftentimes a company will ship products to America where they can get away with selling it.

For this reason, I no longer splurge on online shopping sprees and fall victim to the “Buy Now With One Click” button. I make sure that I want and need something, and I shop around to find things that I know are not coming to me directly from a factory in China.

8.  I wash it before I wear it

This last piece of advice also relates to clothing. When you do buy a product, make sure you wash it before you wear it! One of my worst allergic reactions was from a headband from Forever 21. Even if it’s something so small, if it’s made out of fabric, it’s best to wash it. Remember the children’s pajamas in the “Stink” documentary I mentioned that were covered in DNA-altering chemicals? You can use all the sustainable fashion apps out there, but you never know what a product came in contact with before you owned it. Always take the time to do research and clean it before you drape it over your body.

Remember: These are just mostly suggestions on how to eliminate chemicals in body products, but there are so many other things to be conscious of including the clothing your purchasing, the cleaning products you use, and food you buy. Of course, it’s impossible to tackle these issues in one day or one blog post, but remember to start making changes in those areas as well. Our consumerist and capitalist culture has left us with so many challenges that hinder our health and well being. But I would like to help make it easier for you in any way that I can, one post at a time.

Let’s Be Honest!

Several weeks later I still have a few things that need to be replaced but I’m feeling much better than I was before I started this journey. It really just takes time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this change, maybe just make it a point to throw out one toxic product and buy a replacement each week.

Just so we’re on the same page, I’m not claiming to be an expert on this issue. I’m just starting to learn about it now. I’m simply a young woman who doesn’t want to get breast cancer, or have a heart attack, or become infertile… all because I live in a country where the profit of companies like Forever 21, Jergens, Bath and Body Works, Marshalls, Target, and Amazon are valued over the health and well being of all of our citizens. I have had many relatives who have died of cancer, and I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to limit my exposure to chemicals as much as I can and try my best to be a conscious consumer. But I’m not perfect and I still haven’t begun to figure out what I’ll use to replace the cleaning products we’re using currently.

I encourage you to do your own research on this topic and find ways to protect yourself as well. And when you do, please please please share your knowledge in the comments section below. Let me know the lifestyle changes that you’ve made to protect yourself and what your experience has been. Our government, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and our very own companies are not helping us. It’s up to us to help and protect each other.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Are you currently trying to go fragrance-free? What inspired the change? Have you had any bad experiences that made you switch your products? What steps did you take to protect yourself? Were there any resources that helped?

If you liked this post make sure you scroll to the bottom, hit that little “+”, and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email.” The next post will be sent right to you!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

The Stinky, Scary Secret Behind Consumer Products

Health
Photo about the stinky scary secret behind consumer products. Greenwashing, the fragrance loophole, the Stink Documentary, and Seventh Generation products. Learn how to protect yourself from chemicals in American body products.

My Story: Scary Allergic Reactions to Consumer Products

I didn’t know that when I made a simple decision to switch to all natural products this past year that my whole life would change. All I knew was that I hated the smell of chemicals from perfumes, shampoos, cleaning products, clothing, even produce, and I knew that it must not be healthy for me to be rubbing things into my body when I could smell the chemicals in them – chemicals that I knew instinctively were hazardous to my health. But it wasn’t just a hunch, I had experienced it first-hand.

I started to really think about this issue back in college when I started to buy a lot of clothing, cosmetics, and detergent that had caused me to have the worst allergic reactions I had ever experienced. Fast forward to today, and I’ve become a little bit more familiar with this issue than I would like to be.

It happens every couple of months at very random and enormously inconvenient times, and it’s a feeling that I recognize in a heartbeat. My skin heats up like it’s on fire, every cell in my body feels like it’s buzzing trying to get my attention, my heartbeat rises, my skin itches uncontrollably, and hives start to spread all over my body. It seems to always start from my face or my scalp and it works its way down my body within a few minutes until I am covered in huge hives. At worst, one hive took up my entire cheek. I wish I was exaggerating. Every time it happens the hives stick out from my face and burn and itch until finally the Benadryl kicks in.

The worst part? I have no f*cking idea what causes this. All I know is that they put chemicals in and on clothing and other random products like I’ve found at the mall, on Amazon, and at well-known stores like Marshall’s.

My first crazy allergic reaction happened when I was a freshman in college and has happened consistently since then. So that’s when I started to get nervous when I was shopping and would often wonder whether I was making a wise decision buying any product on the shelf, especially if it was imported.

That’s also when I realized how shady and secretive these large companies are, whose products completely fill our homes and bodies. Every time I went to a store or called a company complaining that their product created an awful allergic reaction and hives on every inch of my body, they denied it. Not a single person told me what was in or on the products. Not a single person apologized on behalf of the company. Instead, every single one of them said, “No, that didn’t happen to you.” “It must have been something else.” “You’re mistaken.” “That’s not true, it’s impossible that our product would have done that to you.”

There I was after a horrible allergic reaction that scared the sh*t out of me, and I didn’t even hear an apology. Instead, I was told that I was lying. So I started to become more aware of what I was using and decided to become a more conscious consumer. Because maybe next time I’m exposed to whatever chemical that is, I won’t be that lucky.

The “Stink!” Documentary

Upon making some of these changes, a friend of mine recommended the documentary on Netflix called, “Stink!” which was extremely eye-opening, and finally informed me about this issue I’ve been dealing with for 5 years. It’s a documentary all about what factories and well-known brands knowingly put ON and IN our consumer products.

which was extremely eye-opening, and finally informed me about this issue I’ve been dealing with for 5 years. It’s a documentary all about what factories and well-known brands knowingly put ON and IN our consumer products.

“Stink!” is about a man named Jon J. Whelan who discovered on Christmas morning the dangers these chemicals present when his daughter unwrapped a pair of pajamas from Justice. The room was immediately filled with a horrible stench of chemicals–chemicals that he later found out caused cancer and altered DNA after having them tested by a lab. Through his research to get to the bottom of why his daughters’ pajamas stunk of chemicals, he discovered that the chemicals used in American consumer products are not regulated. In America, there are about 30 chemicals banned (out of 80,000) because we know that they cause cancer, but that doesn’t mean we don’t use them… Why, you ask? Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot do ANYTHING about the issue unless they have absolute, hard-hitting proof that their product causes breast cancer, or infertility, or heart failure for example, under its intended use. So basically it’s impossible to prove. When someone dies of a heart attack, no one thinks to see if their lotion caused it, or if it’s the shirt they wore. Do they? And how on earth would you go about proving something like that? You can’t. And here’s why…

The Fragrance Loophole

“Stink!” talks about one loophole in particular that is a sneaky way companies can put ANYTHING they want into consumer products without having to disclose it or even prove that it’s safe. It’s a seemingly harmless word used on the back of almost all of our popular products that says “Fragrance” or “Parfum.” You see, all the word “fragrance” means is secret chemicals. Companies don’t have to share what is in them, whether it’s clothing, cleaning products, body products, etc., because it’s considered a “trade secret” and because it’s “proprietary.” Because of this loophole, our consumer industry is so under-regulated that other countries send their products to America where they can get away with selling it!

Side note: Would you want to know how many chemicals are banned by the European Union (EU)? Over 1,300. Europeans clearly care about their health far more than we do.

Companies will say that the reason they don’t want to disclose this information is because someone would be able to replicate their product (which means fewer sales for them and less $$$). But in reality, that’s not why it’s kept a secret anymore. The reason all of these hugely successful companies want to keep this loophole and why they regularly lobby for it, is because if American consumers knew that our body products and clothing caused cancer, infertility, birth defects, heart failure, and alter DNA, they wouldn’t buy this crap anymore!

In the documentary, one reporter shares that she had a lab test her for chemicals and found out that she had hundreds of toxic chemicals in her blood. Even American babies are born with around 200 chemicals in their bodies from the products their mothers used, breathed in, and were exposed to while they were pregnant.

If you don’t believe me yet, here’s a fun fact for you: In America, you can legally bottle and sell fracking fluid as a fragrance. That’s how much we turn a blind eye to what’s in our products.

Natural Products… May Not Be Natural

Just like anyone else would after watching a documentary like that, I immediately ran to the medicine cabinet to check my products. What I discovered was that nearly every product I own contains fragrance as an ingredient. Even the seemingly harmless and so-called “natural” products. I was completely disturbed to see that products I own were packaged to appear natural, but were far from it.

What I mean by appearing natural is that the companies used classic typewriter font; used words like “fair trade,” “organic,” and “natural”; and used natural colors like off-white, tan and light green. They may even say specific natural ingredients on the front like “made with organic coconut oil” or “rosemary essential oil.” To the consumer, these products look healthier and natural to the eye, which is why I had bought them. The products still contained fragrance, and the so-called “natural” ingredient could only account for 1% of it for all I know. Plus, even products that say “fragrance-free” on them may have chemicals anyways! Because how would anyone ever know?

But how could this be? How could even “natural” products be so harmful, trick us into believing they’re safe? That question is what lead me to learn about something called “Greenwashing.”

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is when press or marketing is used deceptively to promote the perception that a company’s products are environmentally friendly. Through greenwashing, companies can sell you the idea that their products are all-natural, healthy, organic, and environmentally friendly, even if they are not any of those things. One example is the Dawn Dish Soap campaign.

Remember those adorable little ducklings being cleaned up from the BP Oil Spill with Dawn dish detergent? Did you know that the ingredients found in Dawn are extremely toxic to animals? After knowing what I know now, I would NEVER use Dawn dish soap (use Seventh Generation soap instead) but there was a time when I thought it was a responsible company that cared about people, the environment, and those little ducklings. Nope. Because Dawn is not some wonderfully eco-friendly brand. It’s a company that saw an opportunity from the tragic oil spill and thought it would be fun to play the hero so people would buy more Dawn and the company would make more money.

Also, just because a product may have environmental, or wellness, or organic logos on them, it doesn’t mean anything. The level at which American products are not regulated is baffling.

So what do I do now?

The point of this whole post is that you can’t just blindly buy products if you care at all about your health and the health of your family. You have to actively change your lifestyle to protect yourself, even if it’s inconvenient. This means doing research to figure out how to protect yourself, downloading helpful apps, reading ingredients, and regularly trying out new products to replace your old ones. The days of walking through the body wash aisle in Walgreens and buying the Bubbly Cherry Blossom and Vanilla Blah Blah Blah, are over.

Want to know what you can do each day to better protect yourself from these chemicals? Want to know how you can figure out if a product is healthy to use before you buy it? Stay tuned for next week’s post about how I limit my exposure to chemicals! Hit that little “+” symbol at the bottom of the page and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email” and the next post will be sent right to you!

And as always let me know what you think in the comments. Did you know about greenwashing or the Fragrance Loophole? Did you run to your medicine cabinet to check your product ingredients after this? What are some examples of products you used that you didn’t realize could be dangerous?

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

CBD, Anxiety, & Me: Thoughts After 3 Months on a CBD Tincture

Health, Lifestyle

How Taking CBD Cured My Anxiety

What I used to think about CBD

I’m probably one of the last people to hop on the CBD bandwagon – if not THE last one. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen CBD–cannabidiol, a compound derived from cannabis plants–become so popular for a variety of different reasons. I heard everything from it cures anxiety, relieves pain and helps you sleep. Then there were bigger claims like it fights cancer, prevents seizures, and lowers risk of diabetes. But I didn’t buy any of it. I knew so many people who were completely head-over-heels in love with CBD and raved about it all the time. However, most of them were also very well-known for… puffing the magic dragon… I’m not sure how I’m supposed to word this in a blog. Anyways, they smoke a lot of weed. You know the type: gets super defensive about weed, munching on something all the time, scatterbrained, listens to The Grateful Dead on repeat, burns incense, wears drug rugs, has at least one Bob Marley poster hanging up in their room. You get the idea.

So I didn’t buy it because I’m not a smoker, and I was never enamored with the stoner culture. I’m not going to be convinced about how magical CBD is from someone who can’t go a few hours without smoking weed. I don’t really trust them to educate me because I always wondered, is this new health supplement really as great as they say? Or has everything marijuana just become a major part of their self-identity? So I debated it many times over the last few years, and I always approached the CBD conversations with skepticism (and if I’m being honest here, a lot of judgment).

Then, I started to see a shift. Instead of just smokers using CBD, it started to become popular among many different types of people. Athletes used it, professionals used it, children used it, mothers used it, wellness advocates used it – and CBD started to become seen as a health supplement rather than a conversation in a college dorm room. Fast forward to the last few months and my boyfriend and I are both working for health and fitness companies that invite other companies to sell CBD Oil to athletes at events and competitions.

Today, I regularly meet people who use CBD for an array of reasons. People who are active professionals with 9-5 jobs. I’ve learned of so many success stories particularly with anxiety, so I finally decided that I would give it a try. I’ve now been on CBD for three months and feel much better, but also incredibly guilty for never giving this natural medicine a try. I was quick to judge these products because of the stoner culture that used to surround them and quick to get annoyed when someone would rave to me about why I should be using it. Especially because it seemed too simple. How could taking a few drops of CBD oil be enough to relieve anxiety? Wouldn’t I need to meditate every day, take prescriptions, and see a therapist if I wanted that to happen? No.

So what is CBD?

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert about this. There are so many people and online influencers out there who pretend that they’re CBD experts but they’re not. So I started looking into it for more information. From what I’ve come across, the most informative and easy to understand content was a video by health and nutrition expert, Thomas DeLauer. He explained exactly how CBD affects the receptors in the brain to make us feel good, relax us, help those suffering from cancer, and more. It really helped me comprehend why and how it works so I could finally understand all those big claims that are made and the science behind it. If you’d like to see if yourself, check it out here.

So you may or may not already know this, but for the sake of educating someone who may not, CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis (there’s no THC). Yes, we all know this. Moving on.

According to DeLauer, there are two different CBD receptors in the body and brain, CBD 1 and CBD 2. CBD 1 is found mostly in the brain and affects mood, emotion, mood, pain, etc. CBD 2 is found mostly in the body and affects things like inflammation and the immune system. THC is what activates both receptors, but CBD oil doesn’t. Instead, CBD influences the body to use more of its naturally occurring endocannabinoids, enhancing how the receptors utilize them. It’s the utilization and activation of vanilloid, serotonin, and adenosine receptors that give people the result they’re looking for from CBD.

These receptors play a role because CBD increases the activity of the receptors which trigger secondary responses in the body. For one thing, it activates a secondary response of excretory catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and epinephrine), which is what gives you a heightened sense of awareness while still feeling calm. Secondly, CBD also activates dopamine and causes the body to naturally and effectively utilize that particular neurotransmitter, which makes us feel better. Thirdly, CBD activates glutamate which (in the right amounts) can trigger energy in the right places. Finally, the serotonin receptors: CBD oil activates 5-HT1A which allows the body to create more serotonin and use it more efficiently. All of these things give us that lovely sensation that CBD companies spend tons of money marketing to us: you’ll feel calm, yet awake. So that’s the long-winded version of what CBD is, as far as how it helps someone struggling with anxiety, like myself. Thank you, Thomas DeLeaur for explaining all of that in a way that makes sense for someone like me who just barely passed science class in school.

Why I tried CBD

I heard several stories from friends who suffered from terrible anxiety and were able to relax and function normally after taking CBD. That they no longer suffered from anxiety attacks, or have moments when their heart races uncontrollably, or feel overwhelmed even when nothing stressful is happening. On top of that, my boyfriend and I also work at well-known health and fitness companies, and we’re constantly surrounded by people who are in incredible shape and participate in competitions on the weekends–and many of them take CBD. So after hearing about CBD for years, I finally decided to take a leap of faith. The worst that could happen was I wouldn’t like it, and move on with my life. When I started using CBD, I started with the brand, Elixinol. Elixinol is a high-quality, naturally processed CBD brand with 100% Organic Industrial Hemp from the U.S., Europe, and Australia. I use it in the morning before work and at night before I fall asleep. It comes in a one-ounce bottle and glass dropper with measurements on it for a .5 milliliter (ml) or 1 ml dose. I fill it up, usually to about .75 ml and I put the CBD underneath my tongue for about a minute to allow it to absorb into my bloodstream and then I swallow.

Side Note: I got this one from my boyfriend because he bought it for himself and realized that there was coconut oil in it which he’s allergic to. So if you’re allergic to coconut oil too, you really have to read CBD labels because tons of brands use coconut oil as a carrier oil.

After using Elixinol for over a month, I then tried out Charlotte’s Web CBD after hearing testimonials from so many people that swear by Charlotte’s Web and found the most success with that brand. If you’ve never heard of the story behind Charlotte’s Web, I highly suggest looking into it. The company was started because of a little girl name Charlotte Fiji who suffered from Dravet Syndrome — a very rare form of epilepsy. Her story is one that is completely heartbreaking and has shown people all of over the world how healing CBD can be. If you want to read the full story check it out here.

After using Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web both for a month and a half each, I can finally say that I am a firm believer in using CBD.

My thoughts after 3 months on CBD

Less Anxiety – Within the first day of being on CBD, I immediately felt better. I noticed that my mental state had become much more peaceful than it was before. The way that I could describe it is like taking an actual chill pill. Normally throughout the day, I have negative emotions, as we all do. I get anxious, angry, and sad, and it regularly ruins my day and makes me feel crappy both mentally and physically. If you’ve had anxiety then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You know that feeling when you start to have anxiety? It’s not just a mental feeling, but you feel it physically too. Your heart races, you sweat, you feel wired, you don’t feel like you’re in control of your body or mind, and your whole body feels agitated and uncomfortable. When I take CBD, I still feel my regular emotions throughout the day, like sadness or anger, but when I do it’s not nearly as heavy as it normally is. Those feelings don’t spread throughout my whole body and make me feel like I can’t breathe or my heart will come out of my chest. Instead, I feel an emotion, but without all of those physical reactions that usually amplify the feelings of anxiety and make it so much worse.

The first time that I really noticed this was when I was stuck in traffic on the highway one day and someone cut me off. Normally this would have made me feel anxious throughout my whole body. I would have felt the adrenaline coursing through me, and I wouldn’t calm down until I reached my destination and got out of the car. But now, I feel slightly anxious in my mind without all of the adrenaline and nerves. Instead, whenever I experienced an emotion like this, I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m feeling a little stressed out right now. That’s fine, it’ll pass.” Or “Looks like there’s some anxiety showing up again.”

I was so surprised by how calm and rational I felt. I started to identify unpleasant emotions, and then let them go without feeding into them. This has actually been something that I’ve been trying to train my mind to do in meditation, but I haven’t been able to do it alone. But now, on CBD, I can. I watch the negative thought show up and pass by just like seeing someone pass by me on the sidewalk. Not that I’m disconnected from my emotions or have become emotionless, but rather they don’t overwhelm me and affect me physically in the way that they used to.

I also want to add that even though CBD calmed me down, the effects are not at all like a prescription drug that people use to treat anxiety. When someone takes a pill meant for anxiety, it immediately hits them and they have a noticeable reaction. They go from having a panic attack to feeling very happy, relaxed, and basically like they’re floating on a cloud away from all of their problems. Which is why I was afraid to try CBD at first because I didn’t want an effect like that. But CBD doesn’t hit you like a prescription does. It’s very slow so after a while, I’ll notice that I feel calm. Taking CBD oil reminds me of taking an ibuprofen when something is hurting. I don’t notice it kick in immediately – it happens so slowly that I didn’t even realize it was starting to work until 30 minutes later when I notice that my headache is gone. Which is why you may not even notice the effects of CBD and realize that it’s working because it doesn’t hit you like a Xanax. Days might go by and you’ll suddenly have an “ah-ha” moment in traffic like me.

Focus –The other thing that I noticed after being on CBD was that it also helped me get out of my own head and focus on what was in front of me. My mind normally races so much that it’s hard to really pay attention when I’m reading, working, or writing. Now, instead of seeing something that I have to get done and letting it overwhelm me and stress me out, CBD has helped me put my feelings aside and focus on one thing at a time. I have no idea how it does this, but it does. Why did I not get on board with this when I was still in school?!

Take-Away

I feel so guilty for judging people who took CBD as a supplement and assuming that people just used it because they thought it was cool. Maybe some people do. But I’ll admit it… I messed up. Sorry! I now take CBD oil with my other supplements morning and night and it has made each day brighter and more manageable. Now that I’ve seen what a difference it can make, I’m experimenting with some other CBD products and see which ones are the best for me. But as of now, Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web are the two that I keep going back to.

If you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, or maybe you just have a hard time focusing, I think you should consider doing some research on CBD, talking to your doctor, and trying a supplement like this. Everyone is different, but this could be a simple lifestyle change that could make a huge difference in your mental state and your day-to-day experience.

Have you taken CBD oil? What has your experience been? Have you noticed any positive (or negative) changes? What brands do you use? What brands do you dislike? If you don’t understand CBD or may be against it, what are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments! I love hearing the new perspectives! And, if you like what you read, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol and type in your email to subscribe! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Text Neck: How My Cell Phone Use Affected My Physical Development

Digital Dilemma, Health

textneckfromheavyphoneuse

For those of you who are new to my site and are visiting for the first time, this blog is about the effects of digital media on us and how we can stay sane in a time when we’re living half of our lives online. I’m interested in many of the ways that digital media impacts us. For example, how things like photoshop and sites like Instagram distorts the perception of our bodies. But today, I want to share something that’s a little bit more serious and even darker than that… My phone and computer use affected my physical development.

My Story

When I was in high school, I started to notice that there was a part in my back that always felt like needed to be cracked. At first, I would have to crack the middle of my back once a day, but then it started to get even more frequent. I remember when I first started to have that problem I talked to my parents about how I wanted to see a chiropractor and they were 100% against it. They might have rather seen me dead than in the hands of a chiropractor. In their minds, chiropractors were as legitimate as an old homeless woman on the street corner offering $5 tarot card readings. So, as badly as I wanted to go, I finally had to let it go.

What started as that nagging feeling that bothered me all day had slowing spread to all other parts of my body over the course of ten years the longer it went untreated. It went to my hips, my upper back, my knees, my shoulders, and finally my neck. Eventually, it became worse than a nagging feeling of needing to crack my back and turned into a pain that I felt constantly. I tried yoga, essential oils, hot presses, ice, exercise, massages, you name it. Then one day I decided to get a massage in hopes that it would ease the pain, but it only made it much worse. As the therapist was working on my neck, I could tell that the pain was in my bones rather than my muscles. The top vertebrae in my neck were sticking out and causing inflammation and knots all around that area. But even then, I still let it go. I had been told my whole life that I shouldn’t see a chiropractor so I didn’t really see it as a possibility at that point and thought that I just had to deal with the pain. Eventually, my alignment issue became so painful that I couldn’t function normally. The only time I felt somewhat decent was if I was laying down in bed. Finally, the day came when I had no choice to seek help and find a chiropractor.

Seeking Help

My online searches brought me to a highly rated office called Lighthouse Chiropractic in Saint Augustine, Florida. I read through the reviews and found one by a woman who loved this office so much and found it to be so healing that she believed fate had brought her to Lighthouse Chiropractic. I will never forget that I picked up my phone and left a voicemail for a consultation appointment while I was laying on the floor crying from neck and back pain. To this day, I’m still embarrassed by that voicemail and I wonder if they had ever noticed that I was choking back tears and trying to manage my shaking voice while I left my name and number.

After a day, they called me back and we set up a consultation. That first visit was spent getting all sorts of x-rays and other tests done to figure out what exactly was going on. I mostly sat in a room wearing an ugly gown and wondering what it all was supposed to show. The next visit I came back to go over it all with the Chiropractor, Dr. Adam Podzra (He goes by Dr. Adam so that’s how I’ll refer to him in this post), and discuss a plan for treatment. He walked me through all the different scans which showed him that the areas I always felt like I had to crack were completely inflamed. There was no wonder why I was in so much pain, bad alignment was causing my bones to poke out and cause soreness in my muscles. He also learned that my body is always in a state of fight or flight. I always had just thought that I was “a worrier,” but apparently it’s a bit worse than that.

Eventually, Dr. Adam showed me my x-rays, and I’ll never forget it. The first time I saw my alignment problems on an x-ray I wanted to cry. To him, it was nothing out of the ordinary, but for me it was scary. I was just a couple degrees away from having scoliosis so my spine looked like it was curving and pulling my hip up. My spine was also slightly twisted, and last but not least, my neck had developed straight up and down – a problem known as “Text Neck.” Here is my x-ray below.↡

heavyphoneusetextneckimage

What is Text Neck?

So you might be thinking, “Duh, isn’t your neck supposed to go straight up and down?” Actually no. If you look at an x-ray of a “healthy” neck, it has a nice curve it in- kind of like the shape of C. But my neck has developed “like a stair stepper,” as Dr. Adam would say. It looks like it’s in a straight line with no curve at all. It’s caused by us constantly looking down at computers, tablets, and cell phones. This misalignment is also referred to as a vertebral subluxation.

Side Note: All of the information I’m sharing and quoting in this post is directly from documents Dr. Adam has sent me so I can learn more about this issue. One is called, “The Cervical Curve: Structure, Function, and Human Health,” and the other is called, “Occupational Health, Safety, and Chiropractic.” Both were written by a man named Keith Wassung, a Chiropractic Advocate.

So what does this mean? “Vertebral subluxations cause nerve interference which diminished the inherent healing potential of the human body. Subluxations have been documented to cause a variety of health problems including headaches, migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, TMJ, sinus infections, ear infections, vertigo, allergies, asthma, thyroid conditions, sinusitis, arm pain, shoulder pain, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and many others.” And I have almost all of those wonderful things. “Vertebral subluxations are often referred to as the “silent killer” because they destroy the health and healing process of the human body long before the presence of any symptoms.”

Over time this leads to something even more exciting called spinal degeneration. What is spinal degeneration? “Spinal degeneration is the gradual and progressive breakdown of vertebral joints and related structures due to long-standing misalignments or vertebral subluxations, caused by deterioration of the intervertebral disc, bad posture, or a variety of traumatic injuries. When left uncorrected these spinal misalignments cause abnormal biomechanics which erode joint surfaces.

So if you’re like me and you don’t want that to happen to you, you have to invest in seeing a Chiropractor. “Doctors of Chiropractic detect and correct vertebral subluxations by physically adjusting the spine to restore normal spinal functions and balance which allows the nervous system to send and receiver information. This allows the inherent healing potential of the body to best express itself.”

Ok, Heather. Why Should I Care?

So this misaligned happens due to accidents, injuries, childhood falls you may not even remember, and even the birth process. But another big cause of it is poor posture, which almost everyone has now. In our modern lifestyle, we’re always looking at some screen, watching a show, scrolling through Instagram, online shopping, writing a blog, sitting at a computer all day at work, etc. This head in a forward posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine (particularly in the area where I always felt like I had to crack my back) and causing alignment to get out of whack. Also, if you really feel like having nightmares tonight, then you should know that it can also deplete our lung capacity and smush gastrointestinal organs. How f*cking scary?!

This is so important to talk about because there are now millions of children growing up with the internet. I nannied for parents who gave their 2, 3, or 4 years old their own iPads. I see little kids with cell phones. My neck developed straight up and down, and I didn’t even start to use the internet heavily until I was in high school. Children now are using this technology every. single. day. I just know that years from now every single one of them is going to wake up one morning and discover that the reason they’re in pain all the time is that their bones have been deteriorating. But by the time that happens, it will be too late to help them.

In the last couple of years more people are coming forward and talking about how digital media impacts their mental health, but there hasn’t been much a discussion about how it impacts physical health. I’m hoping that this blog post acts as a warning to other people who, like me, have spent years consumed by my devices. Let’s talk about this problem now and put an end to “Text Neck.”

Stay tuned for posts in the future about how I treated Text Neck at home and my progress after being under Chiropractic care for 7 months.

Thank you for reading Lost Online and as always, let me know what you think in the comments! What are your thoughts on Text Neck? Do you have Text Neck? Do you see a Chiropractor and has it helped you with this issue? Have you set any restrictions for your tablet, phone, or computer use?

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.